Poetry News

Poetry of the Taliban

By Harriet Staff

We posted recently about Bin Laden the poetry scholar. Now comes this story about a collection of Taliban poetry.

Via CNN:

A controversial new book has hit shelves in Great Britain that contains poetry written by members of the group or authors who seem quite romantically devoted to it. It's titled, appropriately enough, "Poetry of the Taliban."

The spot on my heart makes a candle like the sun
To watch the earth and skies with.

That’s just a taste of the verse two Western researchers stumbled on while perusing the Taliban’s web site. Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn, who have been living in Afghanistan for years, found the trove while they were working on a project called Afghanwire, an online resource they created to help foreigners understand what everyday Afghans were doing.

They noticed that new poems kept popping up on the Taliban’s site and kept clicking to find poems dating to the 1990s. They asked around to see if anyone was bothering to translate them to English.

No one was, so their translator went to work.

“The poems seemed part of our understanding of who the Taliban were. They meshed with what we’ve seen living in Kandahar – that it wasn’t enough to believe that the Taliban are fighting simply out of religious fervor,” Kuehn said. “There was a lot more to these guys.”

Beyond fighting, the poets penned odes to love, and to Afghanistan. They wrote about corruption in government and about NGOs that are failing to really help Afghans. They ruminated on money, loss of life, being a refugee and beauty.

Originally Published: May 22nd, 2012