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  • This story was written in response to a rather beautiful and haunting article by the poet Eliza Griswold over on the New York Times. It's subject was the work of a tiny literary group in Afghanistan committed to encouraging the writing of women and girls despite frequent violent hostility. The title comes from a form of folk poetry frequently passed on by women to other women.

    ......................................................................................................................

    As often as she is able, Ogai listens to the magic over a crackled spitting phone line to Kabul. Like the locus of a compass, fragmented lines of poetry eddy and swirl around her. She is the centre of a spinning wheel, stories whirled into her orbit like a dance. It is quietly miraculous.

    These are women's stories but often the speakers are young. Snatched moments of freedom. Just enough time for an illicit phonecall. Stories called in from dusty, opium-broken provinces. Not out of their teens they are already familiar with the canon of tragedy. The blood stained clothes, honourable deaths, children born to children - each scar henna-etched onto their writer's hands. Like the impressions on a wax tablet, thier stories could so easily be wiped clean. The tabula rasa of averted eyes and buried experience. The expectation that they will not and should not open their mouths.

    But Ogai will not let that happen. Paper and ink now combust. In the powder keg - a ribald joke, a suicide note. A curse.

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/magazine/why-afghan-women-risk-death-to-write-poetry.html?smid=fb-share
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