Apr 30 Written by 

"Why Afghan Women Risk Death to Write Poetry"

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Perhaps you've already read this NYT article of April 29, 2012 about Afghan women who secretly phone in their poems to another woman, perhaps an older one, who dares to transcribe them. The women speak in metaphor to avoid beatings and death. If caught writing love poems it's assumed they have boyfriends, and they are beaten by their brothers. If caught writing political poems -- but they don't dare write exactly what they think. They use metaphor.

As human rights diminish, the power of poetry increases. The most oppressed people depend the most on metaphor; that is, on poetry. I believe we are looking here at a version of our own future. Perhaps mass illiteracy will mean poems are called in to somebody who's literate. Perhaps we will even bypass the writing of poems and record them ourselves, and pass the recordings on to a middleman who can keep us anonymous yet get them disseminated; or we will just stand outside of our dwellings and speak our poems and people will gather around to hear the one who dares to speak.

Poetry is serious business!
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Catherine Rankovic

Writer, with 30+ years' writing and publishing experience, 20+ years' teaching experience. Last book read: Mrs. Lincoln by Catherine Clinton.