A few years ago, award-winning journalist and poet Eliza Griswold learned the story of Zarmina, a young girl in Afghanistan who had regularly phoned a radio hotline for women who wanted to share poems called “landays.” Landays are couplets expressing laments, jokes, and frustrations; they are forbidden to many Afghan women because they imply dishonor and free will. When Zarmina was discovered writing them, her brothers beat her badly, and she protested by setting herself on fire. She later died in a Kandahar hospital.
Griswold teamed up with war photographer Seamus Murphy and reported the story of Zarmina for the New York Times Magazine in 2012. After the article was published, their work together bloomed into a much larger collaboration about Afghan women, which resulted in a a photographic and poetry compilation called I Am the Beggar of the World: Landays From Contemporary Afghanistan.