In the work of I Am the Beggar of the World: Landays From Contemporary Afghanistan Eliza Griswold and Seamus Murphy document the lives of Afghan women. The book pairs photographs with landays, which are expressive poems made by Afghan women. In Afghanistan, it is against the law for the women to make landays because the poems are viewed as a gateway to shame and rebellion. Though the law and punishment are in place to stop the Afghan women from writing the landays, they continue. A life without freedom of expression is a life where one is barred from interaction with the surrounding world. It is impossible and painful to deny the thoughts that flow through one’s head. Those voices who are silenced find a way to sneakily let the expressions slip out their minds.
Sometimes when the thoughts escape, they fall into the form of landays for Afghan women. The work of Griswold and Murphy attempts to gently lift the veils that hide the landays. However, the photos do not completely reveal the women’s faces; instead they are images of the sweeping and engaging surroundings. The poems let us feel and imagine what is happening to the Afghan women. In the poems, every word is chosen and ruled by the writer: it is space of words, which she has complete control over.
For more information about I Am the Beggar of the World: Landays From Contemporary Afghanistan please read the article by Lance Richardson or the book which will be available on Amazon on April 1, 2014.