Talks @ Pulitzer: Eliza Griswold and "I am a Beggar of the World"

Thursday, June 5, 2014 - 05:00pm to 07:30pm EDT (GMT -0400)

Join us for an evening of Afghan women's folk poetry read by journalist and author Eliza Griswold. Book signings follow the readings.

“I’ll make a tattoo of my lover’s blood
and shame each rose in the green garden.”

-Malalai, a Pashtun poet and woman warrior

Poet and journalist Griswold reported from Afghanistan and Pakistan for 10 years. But because of the demand for breaking news, some of her most interesting and powerful stories were left on the cutting room floor. Wanting to convey the humanity and humor of the Afghan people who were living with the daily realities of war, she embarked on a project to tell those stories by collecting oral folk poems shared mostly among Pashtun women.

The poems are called landays. Just two lines long with 22 syllables, they carry a bite. (One meaning of the word landay is short, poisonous snake.) "I am the Beggar of the World: Landays from Contemporary Afghanistan" was the result of Griswold's Pulitzer Center-supported project, "Afghanistan: On Love and Suicide," with poems translated by Griswold and haunting photography of Afghan life by Seamus Murphy.

Poetry magazine dedicated its entire June, 2013 issue to landays, with written contributions by Griswold and photography by Murphy.

We'll start the evening at 5:00 pm with readings by Griswold from "I am the Beggar of the World," followed by a reception and book signing by the author. We'll have a second set of readings, reception and book signing beginning at 6 pm.


The event will be livestreamed using Google Hangout on Air. Watch above (refresh the page if you do not see a video) or on YouTube. Tweet your questions to @pulitzercenter.

This talk is part of a special series of talks @ pulitzer on issues affecting women and children. The series kicked off in April 2014 with two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Larry C. Price and his work on child labor in the gold mining industry. Award-winning journalist Mellissa Fung discusses her Pulitzer Center-supported project on the education of girls in Afghanistan on Wednesday, June 18.

Other events in the series will feature the work of Pulitzer Center journalists Katherine Zoepf on Saudi women entering the workforce, Steve Sapienza on sex workers in Cambodia who are battling stigma and HIV, and Amy Toensing on widows in India who are both unwanted and unprotected.