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Afghan Women Who Risk Death for Poetry
But Meena and others like her have found that secret literary groups, where they phone in poems for literate women to transcribe, allow them to express themselves -- their frustrations at their controlled existences, at being forced to marry people they don't want to, or not having access to education or ways to support themselves. In Meena's case, tradition dictates that she marry one of her dead fiancé's brothers. According to the Times: "She doesn’t dare protest directly, but reciting poetry to Amail allows her to speak out against her lot...Pashtun poetry has long been a form of rebellion for Afghan women, belying the notion that they are submissive or defeated."
Can you imagine it -- really imagine it -- not being allowed to so much as express an opinion? Can you imagine the release you would feel, finally having a chance, through poetry, to communicate -- even if it had to be shrouded in metaphor and mystery? These women (the poets, the scribes who help them) are truly brave. But they also remind us of the power of art -- whether it's poetry or music or dance or whatever it is -- to say the unsayable. In this case, literally.
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