Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Moya Pacey has three moving poems in the latest issue of Eureka Street. They sing of field hospitals, refugee camps, dark cage villages; a wounded man still as a marble saint, a laden black-veiled woman, a girl’s shaved black curls.

The girl in the third poem titled Sing your landay has stolen her brothers' honour. She is sung back – if only - from the cold river in the second stanza. This poem strikes me in the heart.

It also leads me, in my search for the meaning of ‘landay,’ to poet and reporter Eliza Griswolds feature article ‘Landays’ published with a pictorial by Seamus Murphy and a selection of landays, in the Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Magazine

Here you will read about the women’s tradition of creating landays or oral folk couplets, how in Pashto they lilt from word to word, how they are sung aloud - sometimes to the beat of a hand drum and mostly in secret. They can be a risqué joke, a call to arms, a longing, a lament … ancient or contemporary. They are often sung over and over.

The article gives insights to the life of women in Afghanistan and in particular the tragic story of the young poet Rahila Muska. Eliza Griswold travels to refugee camps, homes, schools and offices to collect landays. More landays and photography in I am the Beggar of the World: Landays from Contemporary Afghanistan (Eliza Griswold and Seamus Murphy, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2014).

Moya Pacey by the way is a Canberra poet whose books include The Wardrobe (Ginninderra Press 2009) and Always Me (Burmac 2013). She also has work in the recently published anthology The House is Not Quiet and the World is Not Calm: Poetry from Canberra (eds. Kit Kelen & Geoff Page, Flying Island Press, Macau 2014).

Well that will keep you busy - visit Eureka, read the Poetry Magazine and pick up a copy of I am the Beggar ... and The House is Not Quiet ... Happy reading.

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