Afghan Women’s Writing Project Poet Now in Exile

by Joshua Barnes    /  August 4, 2011  / No comments




Photo:AWWP

Earlier this year, ICORN’s Stavanger City of Refuge in Norway opened its doors to Norwan, a 27 year-old Afghan poet. Norwan is part of a group of 11 writers that ICORN has already placed in cities of refuge so far this year.

Even though Norwan is no longer in Afghanistan, she writes under a pseudonym in order to ensure her family’s safety. Considering Human Rights Watch’s reports on women’s rights in Afghanistan, secrecy is crucial for the poet and new mother.

According to these reports, violent attacks against women perpetrated by the Taliban are “commonplace” in Afghanistan and threatening letters are sent to women attempting to go out of their homes to work. “[The letters] warn that…if they go to work then they will be killed,” said Freshta S. from a south eastern Afghan province to Human Rights Watch. Several women in public positions have already been murdered, and the Taliban is also known to target schools, particularly for girls over 10-years-old. According to the Afghan Ministry of Education, between March and October 2010, 20 schools were attacked using explosives or arson, and insurgent attacks killed 126 students.

Despite the near-constant danger, the Afghan Women’s Writing Project (AWWP), that was profiled by Sampsonia Way in its last issue–and of which Norwan is a part–is attempting to give Afghan women an outlet for their stifled voices. And while Norwan has not yet published her work in Norway, her poetry and insightful essays are available on AWWP’s website. Below is a copy of one of her poems, “Sack of Winds.”

Sack of Winds

When God created me
he put a world in my heart
……..a world of grief
……..a country of blank deserts
……..a sky full of clouds
with a dead Sun
and crazy winds

He put all my desires
in a sack of winds
……..told me go
……..and find it

It is years and years

I run after the wind
……..to find my desires
……..my smiled lips
……..my sentenced hopes
I run after the winds
in the blank deserts
find nothing
but dead wishes

and
dead wishes

Reprinted by permission of Afghan Women’s Writing Project

Read Norwan’s essay about Obama’s plans to withdrawl US troops from Afghanistan.

Read Norwan’s newest poem about her son.

Read Sampsonia Way’s report on the Afghan Women’s Writing Project.

Learn more about the Afghan Women’s Writing Project.

About the Author

Joshua Barnes is a senior editorial assistant at Sampsonia Way. In 2010 he earned a bachelor’s degree in Fiction Writing and Literature at the University of Pittsburgh. During his undergraduate career, he was awarded with 2009′s Ossip Award in Critical Writing for Anna Kavan A Critical Study and was the Runner up for 2008′s Ossip Award for Below the Ground, Above the Earth: Visualizations on the Evolution of Alienation in Richard Wright’s The Man Who Lived Underground. Currently Josh is working on a variety of multi-media narratives, and is involved with several musical projects.

View all articles by Joshua Barnes

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