Poetry at the Post: Landays—The Voice of Afghan Women

How much simpler can love be?
Let’s get engaged now. Text me.

—a landay from the district of Rodar, Afghanistan, as translated by Eliza Griswwald

Afghan women at a textile factory in Kabul
Afghan women at a textile factory in Kabul

Thank you to  NAPOWRIMO for introducing me to the world of “landays’— 2-line poems,  generally rhyming, used—sometimes in secret—by the women of Afghanistan.

Looking for something interesting to do this Sunday afternoon? Then read this awesome investigative article on the landays of Afghanistan and then watch “Snake,” a 15-minute documentary by Pulitzer Center grantees Seamus Murphy and Eliza Griswold, which showcases the photography and video behind their Afghanistan landay project. You’ll be moved, delighted, saddened and sickened but ultimately inspired.

Climb to the brow of the hill and sight
where my darling’s caravan will sleep tonight.

Khogyani district, Afghanistan
Khogyani district, Afghanistan

Thinking of Afghanistan, I could not stop considering war so here is my landay with a nod to Thucydides and The History of the Peloponnesian War.  

Sixteen triremes sit in the harbor.

Men shiver. Their gums are gone. 

And, in the words of Thucycides, “So this winter ended, and so ended the fifteenth year of war.”

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