For my next trick, a Landay poem! This form, while tricky to nail down at first (and which led to a lot of frustrated syllable-counting on fingers) had a very interesting history attached. In researching this form, I was able to learn about its Afghan roots and impact on Afghanistan women — the poems often being shared anonymously over the radio waves, and today, over the internet.
Most of us experience and know poetry as a rich form of literature that can be used to express, understand, and cope with the world. For some women in the world, however, poetry is seen as an unfit and forbidden practice for their gender. It serves as a reminder to students like us how lucky we are that we can so easily share our own stories and other creative works inside the classroom to each other and within our families without the threat of death or harm hanging above our heads.
Most Landay poems deal with harsher truths such as despair, grief or war but I was drawn to the uniqueness of this form. A Landay consists of two lines (one line nine syllables long, and the other thirteen), and like most of my poems, I attempted to weave in a story in my Landay of an old King suffering at the whims of his ungrateful heirs, slotting several of these Landay couplets together to form my own narrative.
To the Ill-fated King
Your children are an infestation
Ten black hens will not feed fifty of your progeny
You are a husk of what you once were
See how your heirs squirm like worms in froths of wine and blood
The war-lust of your youth stirs in them
As they pray to deities of power for a taste
I sense your eldest son has kindness
Relinquish your crippled throne to him while there is hope
I would like to expand on this poem someday, as I feel the story is too blunt and short now as it is. It would be an interesting experience to draw it out further into a longer story that gives the characters a more realistic depth, perhaps by delving further into the aforementioned King’s life or that of his eldest son’s. Who knows! That’s the joy and eternal frustration of poem and story-writing, I suppose, never having a clue whether an idea is going to lead you straight into a tunnel or brick wall.