Day Nineteen. Just like April 17, today's numeral and the number of days left in the month are both prime numbers: 19 and 11. If you're writing a poem a day this National Poetry Month, I hope you've been sticking with it. Both my writing buddy Alan and I have in some way written to both "official" prompts by Maureen Thorson and Robert Lee Brewer, whether by combining them or else composing two poems, one for each prompt.
Maureen Thorson's NaPoWriMo prompt today: "I’d like to challenge you to write a landay. Landays are 22-syllable couplets, generally rhyming. The form comes from Afghanistan, where women often use it in verses that range from the sly and humorous to the deeply sardonic and melancholy."
Robert Lee Brewer's PAD prompt for day 19: "write an authority poem. Maybe you are an authority on something or know someone who is (or who thinks he or she is). Maybe you respect authority, or maybe not so much. Maybe you are on the run from the authorities."
Reporting on a presentation by Griswold and Murphy about landays and their work in putting together I Am the Beggar of the World, Eleanor Stanford writes, "In a society that sees many women illiterate and hidden by carefully maintained restrictions on their daily freedoms, this artistic form is both an expression of resistance and of unity. Men may tell their own landays, but the vast majority of the voices speaking the poetry are female" ("Female Poetic Resistance and the Afghan Landay"). For more on the landay, take a look at the Introduction to Griswold and Murphy's Poetry Magazine feature, which can be read at the Poetry Foundation website.
Given that in Afghanistan currently the millenia-old landay form is being used by women to express themselves subversively and dissidently against traditional male authority, I'm worried about appropriating or colonizing here by writing landays. At the same time, all poetic forms must of course be available for all poets. All I can do is assure my readers that I write landays with all due respect to the Afghan women who risk their lives in order to speak their minds.
I began by trying to write in the voice of Clara, my aswang speaker, whose poems I've written so far are set in the '20s and '30s in the Philippines and in the US (see, for example, my Day 4 poem). But as I worked the typical -ma and -na landay rhymes, something else began to develop: the voice of a young rural Filipina unhappily married to an elderly man in the 1980s. I realize this poem is derivative of landays quoted in the articles I mention above — I thank and applaud the Afghan women for whom the landay is true personal expression.
As you no doubt know, I am combining today's two prompts
Young Wife, Old Husband
The word makina here is the Pilipino word for machine, referring specifically to a sewing machine. In the last landay, the speaker conflates Buddhist nirvana with Catholic heaven. The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country.
Our friend Alan also merged the two prompts today: the landay and authority. "Given that I am from Alabama and attended the University of Alabama," says Alan, "I had no problems knowing what to write and what authority I needed to cite. Therefore, Roll Tide, y'all."
Well, Alan, the lay of the landay was ours today. (I hope all y'all readers will forgive my recycling the more-than-slightly sexist connotations of that age-old phrase that has been with us several centuries. The language play was just too hard to resist.) Good use of the -ma rhyme, by the way, Alan. Great too that we're both working with our ancestral lands. ヅ
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Ingat, everyone. ヅ
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