B&P’s Shadorma & Beyond – Landay – August 1, 2015

Frida Kahlo. Pensando en la Muerte. WikiArt.
Frida Kahlo. Pensando en la Muerte. WikiArt.

Greetings!  This is Paloma, greeting you from B&P’s Shadorma & Beyond.  For this week you have the choice of writing a shadorma (a non-rhyming six-line poem in 3/5/3/3/7/5), or a landay.

We looked at the landay in March but I think it is very helpful to review these poetic forms so that you don’t forget what’s in your poetic “toolbox”.  There was a great response back in March, and several writers combined landays and shadormas – to good effect.  The landay is brief, but it can be wielded with power.

So, let’s review!

The landay originated in Afghanistan.  It is a folk couplet that is oral in nature:

1. Twenty two syllables broken into two couplets
(nine in the first, thirteen in the second);
2. Ends with a “ma” or “na” sound.
This cannot be replicated in English;
3.  May contain end rhyme;
4.  Characterized by bawdiness, wit, and piercing truths
despite the beauty of the language.

I’ll make a tattoo from my lover’s blood
and shame every rose in the green garden.

— Anonymous

Today I spilled the spinach on the floor.
Now the old goat stands in the corner swinging a two-by-four.


Landays often feature themes of war, separation, homeland, grief, and love.

The Poetry Foundation describes landays as follows:

“… the couplets express a collective fury, a lament, an earthy joke, a love of home, a longing for the end of separation, a call to arms, all of which frustrate any facile image of a Pashtun woman as nothing but a mute ghost beneath a blue burqa.”

Nicolae Tonitza. After War.
Nicolae Tonitza. After War. WikiArt.

Separation, you set fire
in the heart and home of every lover.


My love gave his life for our homeland.
I’ll sew his shroud with one strand of my hair.


Roy Lichtenstein. Live Ammo, 1962. WikiArt.
Roy Lichtenstein. Live Ammo, 1962. WikiArt.

I would encourage you to visit the Landay page at Poetry Foundation. However – keep in mind that the subject matter may be politically sensitive and may be of a sensual nature.  Also, some of the images can be disturbing.  Still – it is well worth reading.


Feel free to write a shadorma, a landay, or any combination of the two.  When you have written your poem(s), please TAG them B&P’s Shadorma & Beyond and MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie. Then add your link to the Mister Linky widget below.

Good writing!


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