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Poetry of the Taliban (Columbia/Hurst) by…
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Poetry of the Taliban (Columbia/Hurst)

by Alex Strick van Linschoten

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Most Taliban fighters are Pashtuns, a people who cherish their vibrant poetic tradition, closely associated with that of song. The poems in this collection are meant to be recited and sung; and this is the manner in which they are enjoyed by the wider Pashtun public today. From audiotapes traded in secret in the bazaars of Kandahar, to mp3s exchanged via bluetooth in Kabul, to video files downloaded in Dubai and London, Taliban poetry has an appeal that transcends the insurgency. For the Taliban today, these poems, or ghazals, have a resonance back to the 1980s war against the Soviets, when similar rhetorical styles, poetic formulae and tricks with meter inspired mujahideen combatants and non-combatants alike. The poetry presented here includes ‘classics’ of the genre from the 1980s and 1990s as well as a selection from the odes and ghazals of today’s conflict . Veering from nationalist paeans to dirges replete with religious symbolism, the poems are organised under four headings —War, Pastoral, Religious and Love — and cover many themes and styles. The political is intertwined with the aesthetic, the celebratory cry is never far from the funeral dirge and praise of martyrs lost.
  HurstPub | Nov 4, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0231704046, Hardcover)

Overlooked by many as mere propaganda, the poetry of the Afghan Taliban offers unparalleled insight into the organization's wider worldview. These two hundred poems, bound together in this collection, draw upon both Afghan tradition and the nation's recent past, and seamlessly connect with the long history of Persian, Urdu, and Pashto verse. The contrast between the severity of the Taliban's ideology and its long-standing poetic tradition is nothing short of remarkable. Unrequited love, vengeance, the thrill of battle, religion, and nationalism -- even a yearning for nonviolence -- are expressed through images of wine, powerful women, and pastoral beauty, providing a fascinating perspective on the hearts and minds of Western civilization's redoubtable adversaries.

Whether they are describing a wedding party annihilated by an air strike or lamenting, "we did all of this to ourselves," these poems are concerned not with politics but with identity and a full, textured, and deeply conflicted humanity. Such impassioned works -- defeated, enraged, triumphant, bitterly powerless, and bitingly satirical -- ultimately endure as a record of the war in Afghanistan. Two introductory essays contextualize the anthology's poems, relating their significance to Pashtun history and their reflection of a culture inundated by thirty years of war. Faisal Devji, noted Taliban scholar, underscores the link between these poems and the Taliban's emotional and ethical character in a preface.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:38 -0400)

While much has been written about the Taliban's military tactics, media strategy and harsh treatment of women, the cultural and sometimes less overtly political representation of their identity, the Taliban's other face, is often overlooked. Most Taliban fighters are Pashtuns, a people who cherish their vibrant poetic tradition, closely associated with that of song. The poems in this collection are meant to be recited and sung; and this is the manner in which they are enjoyed by the wider Pashtun public today. For the Taliban today, these poems, or ghazals, have a resonance back to the 1980s war against the Soviets, when similar rhetorical styles, poetic formulae and tricks with metre inspired mujahideen combatants and non-combatants alike. The poetry presented here includes 'classics' of the genre from the 1980s and 1990s as well as a selection from the odes and ghazals of today's conflict .… (more)

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