Vine (women’s poems from Afghanistan) – for soprano with violin and electronics (fixed media)

duration 6 mins

Vine is part of a larger project of music I’m writing setting texts by Afghan women.
We don’t often think of poetry as rebellion, but the women of Afghanistan have built a tradition out of artistic defiance, of speaking in rhyme words they are forbidden in prose. In the Pashtun culture from the mountainous regions near Pakistan, girls and women share, compose and speak landays – an oral tradition of short poems by and for women, passed down for generations from woman to woman and tribe to tribe. The anonymous nature of these poems allows them to speak the unspeakable – to talk frankly of sensual love and desire, of yearning to make choices, of girls wanting to be more than an adjunct to their fathers, brothers and husbands. In a society where young girls are bartered to old men, where to choose where to love is to risk death, where girls are forbidden from education, the landays tell women’s stories in their own words, unfiltered and unchecked by the men’s voices that surround them.

I bend towards you
Like a vine twists along the earth.

I walk twisting paths to see you,
Like a peddler I cry at every door.

Perusal score on Issuu

Brittany Martin (soprano) and Holly Workman (violin). Music and electronics by Juhi Bansal.

Women's poems from Afghanistan, song cycle

More about landays and women’s poetry in Afghanistan here: