Landays: Poetry of Afghan Women

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.

I could have tasted death for a taste of your tongue,
watching you eat ice cream when we were young.

A landay has only a few formal properties. Each has twenty-two syllables: nine in the first line, thirteen in the second. The poem ends with the sound “ma” or “na.” Sometimes they rhyme, but more often not. In Pashto, they lilt internally from word to word in a kind of two-line lullaby that belies the sharpness of their content, which is distinctive not only for its beauty, bawdiness, and wit, but also for the piercing ability to articulate a common truth about war, separation, homeland, grief, or love. Within these five main tropes, the couplets express a collective fury, a lament, an earthy joke, a love of home, a longing for the end of separation, a call to arms, all of which frustrate any facile image of a Pashtun woman as nothing but a mute ghost beneath a blue burqa.

via Landays: Poetry of Afghan Women | Poetry Foundation


disadvantage of deliberate obfuscation

“I have said before and reiterate here that only an ostrich could regard the supposedly neutral alternatives as race unconscious.”

…I have several times explained why government actors, including state universities, need not be blind to the lingering effects of “an overtly discriminatory past,” the legacy of “centuries of law-sanctioned inequality.”

…As Justice Souter observed, the vaunted alternatives suffer from “the disadvantage of deliberate obfuscation.”

— Justice Ginsburg

(from her dissent in the Fisher case)


You Know Who You Are

The internet is still broken.
I blame Paula Deen. NSA. FISA Courts.
The Military-Industrial Complex.
The Prison-Industrial Complex.

But not in that order.

(It is working but it is like dial-up, what gives, who at the NSA do I have to do tawdry favors for to get them to stop slowing this mother down!) Continue reading

Just Turned on the News

…and you’d think this construction worker was Baby Jessica — and they were blithely ironic in their on-air wish that his recovery arrive in time for the nightly news…“but we can’t schedule the news like that…” ‪