Load Poems Like Guns

The Diplomat Magazine  review of Load Poems Like Guns: Women’s Poetry from Herat, Afghanistan–compiled and translated by SISMEC Researcher Farzana Marie. A common saying about Herat, Afghanistan is that you cannot stretch out a leg there without “poking a poet in the ass.” In her 2002 book The Sewing Circles of Herat, British journalist Christina Lamb attributes Read more about Load Poems Like Guns[…]

For Farkhunda

The lynching of a young woman named Farkhunda in bustling downtown Kabul on March 19th just before nowruz (the Persian/Afghan New Year), has wracked Afghanistan and the Afghan community worldwide. Social media has been saturated with the bloodied pictures and videos of her, and thousands of demonstrators seeking justice for her killing and protesting lawlessness Read more about For Farkhunda[…]

Interrupting the War Image: SISMEC Interviews Graphic Artist Azim Fakhri

Farzana Marie (FM): Many of your works of art depict images of war and violence juxtaposed with, or altered in surprising ways to convey, instead, a vision for peace. Your tagline, “Imagination is my power,” directly implies a displacement of violent force with art. Can you talk about how this approach emerged for you, beginning Read more about Interrupting the War Image: SISMEC Interviews Graphic Artist Azim Fakhri[…]

“Letters to War” and “Lethe”

Letters to War and Lethe is a collection of poems about war: its deprivations, its strange gifts, and its remembrances. “Whether set in Afghanistan or an American supermarket,” writes Boston-based poet Joyce Peseroff, these poems “upset platitudes and assumptions about those who fight, what they remember, and who speaks for them.” Farzana Marie’s book, Peseroff says, Read more about “Letters to War” and “Lethe”[…]

At Least It’s Over (And Afghanistan has a CEO)

Over five months after Afghanistan’s first round of voting on April 5th, 2014, the election results are finally in. Sort of. As the longstanding President Hamid Karzai delivers his farewell address, the mood is one of disgusted relief. Overall, Afghan citizens are comforted that the election has been resolved without an outbreak of violence or even civil war. The intervening Read more about At Least It’s Over (And Afghanistan has a CEO)[…]

Election Arts: Giving the Taliban the (Ink-stained) Finger

On Saturday, April 5th, 2014, the Afghan people delivered a resounding message to the Taliban and observers around the world. They voted not only for the presidential candidate and provincial council members of their choice but also for a democratic process in which citizens—both men and women—have a participatory role and can hold their leaders Read more about Election Arts: Giving the Taliban the (Ink-stained) Finger[…]

Freedom Graffiti: Syrian Artists of the Ayyam Gallery

Love and war are never very far apart. Miles from the high-level politics that formally send men and women to war, in the end humans fight for what we love: for the sweaty helmeted soldier beside us, for the survival of our family, for ideals—like freedom—without which life is more like death. Just before Valentine’s Read more about Freedom Graffiti: Syrian Artists of the Ayyam Gallery[…]

Framing the War Before it Frames Us: A Conversation with Iraqi Poet Dunya Mikhail

“The war continues working day and night. It inspires tyrants to deliver long speeches, awards medals to generals and themes to poets. It contributes to the industry of artificial limbs, provides food for flies, adds pages to history books, achieves equality between killer and killed…” That was an excerpt from Dunya Mikhail’s poem “The War Read more about Framing the War Before it Frames Us: A Conversation with Iraqi Poet Dunya Mikhail[…]

Memento Mori: Poetry, Conflict & the Uncanny

How does poetry grapple with the conflicts and social issues of our time? What can a poem do in the face of rocket-thuds, choking smoke, a child’s pink sandal in a blood-pool on the street? Can it find meaning in THAT? Is poetry perhaps, as Iraqi poet Dunya Mikhail put it, not medicine but an Read more about Memento Mori: Poetry, Conflict & the Uncanny[…]

Hearts for Sale! A Buyer’s Guide to Winning in Afghanistan (Excerpt)

A beloved and well-respected Afghan civil society leader, Dr. Mohammad Saeed Niazi once said, “The hearts of the people are for sale—but not for money.” Genuine caring, respect, and service “buy” hearts; and those hearts freely offer the legitimacy governments embroiled in counterinsurgency so crave. Dr. Niazi’s words suggest that neither the secret to earning Read more about Hearts for Sale! A Buyer’s Guide to Winning in Afghanistan (Excerpt)[…]

Street With Joy: The Afghan Triumph in South Asia

It was nearing midnight on September 11th, 2013, when chaos exploded in the streets: shouting, honking horns, tracers arching over people’s heads, scattered gunshots. But this time, for the first time in living memory, it was an overwhelmingly joyful frenzy; people were hugging, dancing, back-slapping, weeping, waving the red-black-and-green flag, blaring music from their cars, Read more about Street With Joy: The Afghan Triumph in South Asia[…]

The Taliban in Doha – Peace or Ruse?

The challenges of negotiating with the Taliban On Tuesday, June 18th, 2013, four major news-items collided in the headlines on Afghanistan. The first was the official security handover by the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) of remaining 95 districts in Southern and Eastern regions to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). The second was a Read more about The Taliban in Doha – Peace or Ruse?[…]

Learning from Student Dialogue

Civil Dialogue and Better Ways to Build Afghan-U.S. Trust Earlier this week, Afghan and American university students held a video-dialogue covering a variety of policy issues as well as insight into their daily lives. The tone of the event from the Afghan side was upbeat, and both sides expressed enthusiastic openness and respect.  Many groups Read more about Learning from Student Dialogue[…]