Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Insight Into Pashtun Women's Ancient Afghan Poetry

AIR DATE: June 18, 2013 - Ancient Afghan Poetry Form Adapts to Tell Story of Modern Life and Conflict

For centuries, Pashtun women have traded stories, feelings and life wisdom in the form of two-line oral poems called landays. Eliza Griswold, a journalist and poet herself, traveled to Afghanistan to learn more about daily life there through the modern exchange of poetry. Jeffrey Brown takes a closer look at Griswold's project. Transcript>>>

Watch Ancient Afghan Poetry Form Adapts to Portray Modern Life on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

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"I call. You’re stone. One day you’ll look and find I’m gone."
The teenage poet who uttered this folk poem called herself Rahila Muska. She lived in Helmand, a Taliban stronghold and one of the most restive of Afghanistan’s thirty-four provinces since the U.S. invasion began on October 7, 2001. Muska, like many young and rural Afghan women, wasn’t allowed to leave her home. Fearing that she’d be kidnapped or raped by warlords, her father pulled her out of school after the fifth grade. Poetry, which she learned from other women and on the radio, became her only form of education.

In Afghan culture, poetry is revered, particularly the high literary forms that derive from Persian or Arabic. But the poem above is a folk couplet — a landay — an oral and often anonymous scrap of song created by and for mostly illiterate people: the more than twenty million Pashtun women who span the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Traditionally, landays are sung aloud, often to the beat of a hand drum, which, along with other kinds of music, was banned by the Taliban from 1996 to 2001, and in some places, still is. read more>>>

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