Usually, I try to keep these Monday postings somewhat upbeat. When I fail, it’s normally because somebody has stepped on my toes in some form or other, letting my inner Statler and Waldorf out.
But this week, following an article in yesterday’s Danish newspaper Politiken, I have been spending too many of my brain cells’ activity on freedoms, especially the ones concerning your right to be who you are without a host of other people pounding at you just because you claim that right.
This happen in too many contexts -
- In a number of places, you risk anything from harassment to your life if you choose a different (or no) religion than the majority
- Skin colour and hair style may pick you out for special “attention” from law enforcement, regardless of who you actually are in the society
- A different sexual orientation may block you from having the same rights as anyone else – or may actually lead to threats to your life
- And lastly, in many, many, many places in the world, just being a woman may well mean that you’re seen as a lesser being, not seen as allowed to have a public opinion, automatically shamed for your gender if you speak out (whether or not what you have spoken about is gender relevant or not)
- and so on ad nauseam.
Changing tack for just one second – bear with me – I am sometimes dabbling in poetry. Haikus, especially – but also more “free-flowing” forms. More advanced forms like triolets are beckoning – but also seem very daunting in their requirements.
So maybe that is why the article mentioned above struck a deeper-than-usual chord with me. It is about Afghanistan women who write poetry – something that, out in the provinces, may cost them their lives in one way or the other. But still, they write – also when publishing only comes in the form of secret phone calls to a network of like-minded women poets. Calling in itself is risky – family or others may belive the calls are to a boyfriend and administer punishments.
One of the common forms of poetry is the landai – a simple, two-line poem of up to 22 syllables (I assume that this is for the original language and does not always survive transcription into English). But simple in format do not, as with Haiku, mean simple in content or lack of power or elegance:
“Her memory will be a flower tucked into literature’s turban.
In her loneliness, every sister cries for her.”
“When sisters sit together, they always praise their brothers.
When brothers sit together, they sell their sisters to others”
“Is there not one man here brave enough to see
How my untouched thighs burn these trousers off me?”
A couple of international articles if you want to learn more: NY Times, Pulitzer Center. And remember, when you write, that chances are you risk a lot, a whole lot, less than these eloquent and brave women do.
Back in my own Western, luxurious world, this was the music this morning that accompanied thoughts of how poetry seems to be a connection between people of all parts of the world … :
Birdland – Weather Report
Loch Lomond (Live) – Runrig
Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad – Meat Loaf
Vi skaber en verden perfekt – TV-2
Who’s That Girl – Eurythmics
Hey Good Lookin’ – Backseat Boys
Photo by Hanifa Alizada; from www.cku.dk