Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Postcards from Kabul | Nathalie Handal

I’m not that weak willow twisted by every breeze.
I’m an Afghan girl known to the world.

- Nadia Anjuman

In May 2011, poet Nathalie Handal was invited by the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa and the State Department to travel to Kabul, Afghanistan to participate in a literary tour, which also included National Book Award Finalist Joshua Ferris and essayist Christopher Merrill. While in Afghanistan, she taught a poetry workshop to young Afghan women students at Kabul University and participated in many literary dialogues with other poets from the country. The short film captures this unique poetic journey. Nathalie currently lives in New York City. From Bomblog.

Here is one of her poems she read…


The Arab Revolt 2011

The story begins
with a song—
it’s stubborn,
breaks air
into history;
for a minute
it’s quiet
to allow everyone in,
and then it raises
to celebrate voices,
clears its throat,
We will bury the smoke that blinds us,
plant our soul on every page,
we will divide our pain into towers
and fill our hands with rain,
we will arrive on time every day
to chase you away,
we will no longer be afraid
of what makes us shiver under the sun,
we will leave our names in every teahouse,
our messages at the bottom of every cup.

Light will no longer be illegal
nor will hope—
even the guards will count
the scars on their tongue
and prepare to heal,
even the children will keep
homeland in the mirror
and prepare to see,
even the women will turn
the fire inside the door
off, and prepare to live.

We will never whisper again.
There is evidence, there is evidence,
that now we can hear
the sounds that lift freedom
across a continent,
and say, Salaam to you,
welcome to my country.

by Nathalie Handal

From Guernica, A Magazine of Art and Politics

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