The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

Rural Folk Poetry of Afghanistan

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Poetry magazine is devoting its entire June issue to Journalist Eliza Griswold and London Filmaker Seamus Murphy’s project which portrays “Afghan life through the prism of oral folk poems…”

For 10 years, journalist Eliza Griswold reported from Afghanistan and Pakistan for publications like The New York Times and The New Yorker. But she was frustrated that in pursuit of the headlines, some of her most interesting stories were left on the cutting room floor. Too often, she felt, she wasn’t able to convey the humanity and humor of the Afghan people who were living with the daily realities of war.Last year, she embarked on a project to tell those stories by collecting oral folk poems shared mostly among Pashtun women.

I dream I am the president.
When I awake, I am the beggar of the world.

The poems are called landays. Just two lines long with 22 syllables, they carry a bite. (One meaning of the word landay is short, poisonous snake.)

“This is rural folk poetry. This is poetry that’s meant to be oral. It’s passed mouth to mouth. Ear to ear. And the women have recited these poems for centuries,” said Griswold.Over the past decade, many of the landays have also expressed anger about the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan:

May God destroy the White House and kill the man
who sent U.S. cruise missles to burn my homeland.

Others are filled with sorrow:

In battle, there should be two brothers:
One to be martyred, one to wind the shroud of the other.

The article can be found here.

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Author: Daniela

I was born in Croatia, at that time Yugoslavia. My family moved to the US when I was very young, but I still treasure the memories of my grandfather teaching me how to protect myself against the "evil eye," my grandmother shopping early every morning, at the open air market, to buy the freshest vegetables for the day's meals, and the traditions that were the underpinnings of our society. Someone once noted that "For all of us that want to move forward, there are a very few that want to keep the old methods of production, traditions and crafts alive." I am a fellow traveler with those who value the old traditions and folk wisdom. I believe the knowledge they possess can contribute significantly to our efforts to build a more sustainable world; one that values the individual over the corporation, conservation over growth and happiness over wealth.

One thought on “Rural Folk Poetry of Afghanistan

  1. Pingback: Poetry of survival | The Drugstore Notebook

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