Landays and Beyond

I came of age in poetry in the traditions of rhyme, meter, and classic western forms. Once my limited view of the genre had been cracked open by the likes of free verse enthusiasts such as Charles Bukowski, the catalog of world poetry made more sense. Stanzas and lines became less important than content. I still like to write in forms, western or borrowed, such as the pantoum; but I now read and appreciate other forms including haiku and the ghazal. In the spring of 2014 I became intrigued by landays with the publication of I Am the Beggar of the World: Landays from Contemporary Afghanistan.
A landay is a folk couplet that may rhyme, but usually does not. It would have nine syllables in the first line and thirteen in the second. I have only read in translation from Pashtun so I won’t get the strict syllable count or the effect of them usually ending with either the sound na or ma. I do however read them as couplets and can appreciate the content and history of their circulation. These…