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Story Publication logo June 3, 2013

Poetry Magazine Podcast: Eliza Griswold, Seamus Murphy on Landays

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English

Anonymous and spoken, landai, two-line Pashtun poems, have served for centuries as a means of self...

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Image by Seamus Murphy. Afghanistan, 2012.

The June issue of Poetry Magazine is entirely dedicated to Afghan landays -- two-line poems by Afghan women that capture dark, funny, and revealing moments that few outsiders ever witness.

Editors Christian Wiman and Don Share discuss with Eliza Griswold and Seamus Murphy their poem selections and the origins of the project in a podcast available online.

Seamus had first brought Eliza's attention to these landays, via the work of a famous Afghan intellectual and his collection of poems from the 1970s and 1980s "that reflected Afghanistan during the civil war and before," Eliza said, adding that returning to Afghanistan "was an opportunity to go back and use these poems to look at the impact of war on culture and the process of U.S. involvement."

For a medium that historically revolved around subjects such as of love, landscapes, moons, flowers, she said, what is telling is the frequency with which the poems now talk of drone strikes, tanks and IEDs.

The landay are full of "all kinds of the language of war, spoken not by men on the battlefield but by women who have lost children, who have lost husbands, who are enraged at the state of their country and of their lives."




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