Khaama Press (KP) | Afghan News Agency » Culture & Literature http://www.khaama.com The largest news and information source in Afghanistan Sun, 20 Apr 2014 13:58:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9 A Young Poet Exiled From Her Village http://www.khaama.com/a-young-poet-exiled-from-her-village-9887 http://www.khaama.com/a-young-poet-exiled-from-her-village-9887#comments Thu, 25 Jul 2013 09:54:44 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=27376 A Young Poet Exiled From Her Village
By: Fahim Khairy Persian poetry has a long history of fighting injustice and discrimination, dating back centuries. From Jalaluddin Rumi Balkhi and Rabia Balkhi to modern poets such as Foroogh Farokhzad, many have raised their voices through poetry to attack injustice. These poets often touched on taboos that no one dared speak of, fearing punishment Read the full article...]]>
A Young Poet Exiled From Her Village

By: Fahim Khairy

Persian poetry has a long history of fighting injustice and discrimination, dating back centuries. From Jalaluddin Rumi Balkhi and Rabia Balkhi to modern poets such as Foroogh Farokhzad, many have raised their voices through poetry to attack injustice. These poets often touched on taboos that no one dared speak of, fearing punishment from kings and other rulers.

Karima Shabrang is a new sword in the battle for justice and equal rights for women in Afghanistan. Shabrang soon came up against people who do not believe women should be equals. Shabrang was born in Baharak in the Badakhshan province. She studied Farsi/Dari literature and poetry at Kabul University. After graduating, she moved back to her village and started to work as a school teacher.

Shabrang was not yet known as an Afghan poet. She never showed her creative work to anyone until her first book hit the market and shocked everyone who read just a few pages. In Baharak village, Shabrang had enjoyed a peaceful life. She had the chance to publish her first poetry book titled Beyond Infamy.

Her work breaks taboos and carries a depth and darkness. As leading Afghan poet and professor Partaw Nadery said, Shabrang writes in pain and blood. In much of her work, Shabrang shows what it is like to be a victim of sexism. She was working as a teacher when her book was first published. She did not realize how people would react to her poetry.

My hair was saved for you

But destiny left it in the hands of a stranger

Who uses it to fuel his own desire’

 * * *

Leave the buttons of your shirt open

Allow me to look at your eyes

And a little lower, let me feel the heat

and understand the warmth of the sun in your chest

In Afghan society, women cannot speak of their love desire, not even in poetry. It’s considered criminal, shameful, and dishonorable to do so, but Shabrang courageously broke this taboo. When asked about the message of these lines, she said that “being in the arms of the opposite gender is a need for everyone, including women. This was an empty spot in our society, and I wanted to fill it in and show the feelings and sensations of a woman.”

Soon rumors reached her entire village, and Shabrang became famous. Finally the religious Mullahs got their hands on her book. Day by day, the peaceful and green village that had inspired Shabrang became like a prison for her. She was harassed on the way to school every day and her entire family felt the effects. The Mullahs called her an ”infidel” who wanted to put Afghan women on the wrong path, teaching them to be immoral and shameless.

The harassment escalated until the Mullahs were sending Shabrang death threats. She had no choice but to leave her village and come back to Kabul which she says is a little more modern and safe compared to the remote provinces.

Karima Shabrang is now homesick and homeless. She stays at nights in her brother’s house. During the day, she wanders around Kabul, searching for her future.

Sometimes, I miss myself

My house and the birds that sing in my village

And the stories I used to hear

Now suffering, misery, and I are friends

Mom, oh my dearest mother

Who told you to give birth to such a sad traveler?’

Karima Shabrang is a poetic star that is falling from the sky.  Breaking such taboos is not an easy thing to do in Afghanistan. Shabrang risked her life by publishing her poetry, and now she is on the run trying to escape the wrath of the Mullahs.

Those who are interested in getting in touch with Karima Shabrang can reach me at fahim.khairy(at)yahoo.com

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Afghan Novel ‘Blue Blood Mirage ‘ Released http://www.khaama.com/afghan-novel-blue-blood-mirage-released-421 http://www.khaama.com/afghan-novel-blue-blood-mirage-released-421#comments Sun, 20 May 2012 03:49:54 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=15359 Afghan Novel ‘Blue Blood Mirage ‘ Released
Afghan author Nasrat Esmaty has just released a novel called “Blue Blood Mirage – On the Other Side of Illusion”, which is based on a true story and revolves around the life of Faryal Sitam, a returning Afghan, and her adventures in Afghanistan. The story begins as Faryal and her family return to Afghanistan from Read the full article...]]>
Afghan Novel ‘Blue Blood Mirage ‘ Released

Afghan author Nasrat Esmaty has just released a novel called “Blue Blood Mirage – On the Other Side of Illusion”, which is based on a true story and revolves around the life of Faryal Sitam, a returning Afghan, and her adventures in Afghanistan.

The story begins as Faryal and her family return to Afghanistan from Jordan after a lengthy exile in 2003. Jalal Sitam, Faryal’s father, learns that he is no longer welcomed by his own government and that his cousins are trying to steal his property.

In the meantime, Romaan, Jalal’s friend’s son, asks that Faryal be granted to him in marriage. On what should have been a joyous day, Faryal is kidnapped by Sardar, a powerful and dangerous criminal. Her family quickly agrees to pay the million dollars Sardar demands, but that is of little consolation for Faryal. Fearing more for her chastity than for her life and the repercussions of her return to her family, she makes a frantic choice, but even death cannot save her; her attempt at suicide fails. Desperate, she begs her kidnapper, a middle-aged man with two children, to marry her, to salvage what little honor she may still have.

Devastated by the news, Jalal tries to stop her marriage to the criminal, but his plans are thwarted. He must learn that even men can be pawns in the same game. This is just a glimpse of adventure in Faryal’s life. As Faryal’s journey continues and the story unravels further, it takes more unimaginable twists and turns right to the end.

Through this novel, Esmaty has, on one hand, subtly pinpointed the wrongful practices and unjustifiable values of the Afghan society, and, on the other hand, shown to the world some of the best Afghan practices and values that many authors fail to write about.

As Esmaty states, “When the upper class sets standards, everyone must abide by them. They see everything perfect and build a mirage in their outlooks, mentalities, and approaches, which makes life more difficult than it already is. Afghan women have suffered for a million reasons that have not been their intrinsic faults. This novel, inspired by true events, is an exploration on the cultural injustices done to women in Afghanistan.”

The flow of the story, the twists and turns and thrills in this novel compel you to read it from cover to cover at once. Below are some of Esmaty’s readers’ comments and feedback:

Obaidl Obaid writes, “Wow, awesome book, name khuda. I just read it and found it to be a well informative source in shedding light on some cultural and religious perceptions in an Afghan. We don’t have many writers. Keep it up bro. Hope to see more work from you.”

Ashley Mayar writes, “m a big fun of urs. ur book is jst awesome. when i read d book i couldnt stop ma tears. tnx 4 writing such a wonderful book. we r waiting 4 ur new books”.

Gurusewakh Khalsa writes, “This is a book that–whatever your viewpoint on the issues women in Afghanistan face–will challenge you to think and have you thinking well after you’ve finished reading the book. And it’s all couched in an action packed, engaging story, full of pride and hope for Afghanistan’s future.”

Enayat Katawazai, who has taken a picture of the novel while holding it in his left hand and pasted it on BBM’s page, writes, “Dear All, I’ve read this book from cover to cover, enjoyed it a lot and would recommend it as a MUST read book. It’s a great piece of work by Nasrat Jan. I wish him all the best and looking forward to reading many more masterpieces like this by him.”

Mary MacMakin writes, “Hi Nasrat, that’s quite a blockbuster of a book you wrote – once I got into it I couldn’t put it down. It reads like a script for an exciting movie… Congratulations! That is a great story and it show cases Afghan culture from beginning to end.”

You can purchase this exciting novel online at AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE and iUNIVERSE websites. And to read more about the novel and leave your comments, you can log onto www.facebook.com/bbmirage.

About the Author:

Nasrat Esmaty was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and fled to Pakistan when he was seven. He immigrated to the United States and earned his degree in liberal arts and sciences from the San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, California. He returned to Afghanistan after college.

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Is the Quran only for Afghans to defend? http://www.khaama.com/is-the-quran-only-for-afghans-to-defend-874 http://www.khaama.com/is-the-quran-only-for-afghans-to-defend-874#comments Mon, 27 Feb 2012 16:45:25 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=11892 Is the Quran only for Afghans to defend?
Written by: Abid Amiri Washington, DC – Saturday, February 25, 2012 The major news out of Afghanistan this week has been the Quran burning violent protests around the country. On Tuesday the news broke that the U.S. – led military coalition forces had sent the holy books by mistake or intentionally, that remains to be Read the full article...]]>
Is the Quran only for Afghans to defend?

Written by: Abid Amiri
Washington, DC – Saturday, February 25, 2012

The major news out of Afghanistan this week has been the Quran burning violent protests around the country. On Tuesday the news broke that the U.S. – led military coalition forces had sent the holy books by mistake or intentionally, that remains to be investigated, to a garbage burn pit in Bagram Air Filed.  Afghans were outraged by this appalling act, and thousands of them came out on the streets to protest.  At first the demonstrations were peaceful. As the protests continued around the country in different provinces, they turned violent. Thus, at least 28 people have been killed and hundreds wounded since Tuesday.  In addition, four American soldiers have been shot dead.  However, it is important to know why only Afghans are protecting the Quran, and protesting against burning the Islamic holy book. Remember it is not the Afghan holy book, but the Islamic holy book. Why don’t people in Iran, Saudi Arabia or other Islamic countries also come out to protest? Not suggesting that they should, but isn’t the Quran their holy book too?

Certainly, Afghanistan is different than almost all other Islamic countries. First, it has the lowest literacy rate among Muslim nations – thanks to the four-decade long war. Three out of four Afghans age 15 and over cannot read and write. If they cannot read the Quran, they definitely do not understand it. Therefore, the majority of the population receives its basic Islamic knowledge from the tribal elders, the local Imams, and other religious leaders in the community. These individuals have strong political incentives to take advantage of incidents such as these protests. They mobilize people, appeal to their anger, and emotions in order to promote their political agendas. On the other hand, Muslims in Iran or Saudi Arabia are well educated. They do not take their religious leaders’ call for protest for granted. Almost 80% of Iranians are literate. They can read and understand the Quran. That is a major difference in literacy rate between Iran and Afghanistan – two neighboring countries, and it makes a huge difference in peoples’ approach to problems like the Quran burning.

Second, the unemployment rate in Afghanistan has been fluctuating between 30-40% since 2001, unlike any other Muslim country. That means almost 7 to 8 million people are unemployed in the country.  A man from Parwan province was quoted in the 2010 Oxfam survey saying, “If the people are jobless, they are capable of doing anything.” Many of these young unemployed men are frustrated. They develop a sense of negative attitude towards the central government. Some leave the country, those who can afford to do so, and others get involved in widespread antisocial and criminal behaviors like the Quran burning violent protests. The bottom line is that while young Muslims around the world are employed, and enjoy a good life, the Afghan youth are struggling with unemployment and uncertainty that fuels anger, and violent activities, as a result.

Third, according to some estimates, almost 36% of the Afghan population is living under the poverty line. It is an unprecedented figure compared to any other Muslim country. In other words, one out of every three Afghans has a total income of less than $1 a day. They can at best barely meet their minimal needs for survival. Remember Afghanistan has had the harshest winter this year, and reportedly 40 people, most of them children, have frozen to death. These are the people living under the poverty line, in tents. Their children do not have warm clothes, and they walk around in the snow with bare feet, or torn apart sandals. People are sick and tired of living a subsistence life. They are frustrated and annoyed by the fact that so much foreign aid money has been poured into country and their lives haven’t changed a bit, in some cases have gotten worse. These people are easily motivated by those who have political agendas to join violent protests.

In sum, it is not only Afghans responsibility to defend the Quran; however, the current social and economic problems have created the platform for Afghans to engage in such violent activities. Other Muslim nations are not amenable to such threats; therefore, we haven’t seen the Quran burning related incidents elsewhere.

Abid Amiri currently works for the American Councils for International Education as Program Associate for Higher Education, and has also worked in their Kabul office as a Program Manager. He earned his B.A. in economics and global studies from St. Lawrence University, and concentrates on the North America, the Middle East, and open market economics in Afghanistan. His most recent work on unemployment in Afghanistan was published in the first issue of the Glocal Journal. Abid speaks fluent Pashto, Dari, English, and Urdu. Follow Abid on Twitter @abidamiri

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In search of . . . http://www.khaama.com/in-search-of http://www.khaama.com/in-search-of#comments Wed, 23 Mar 2011 05:22:40 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=2357 Read the full article...]]> By: Ahmad Shuhib Adel
And maybe he lost his mind….maybe he is in love with this knowledge…since he desires something that he doesn’t have…not yet….but he hopes.
He didn’t have the right words, but he was trying, he was telling to himself: I am incomplete object, and the manifested meta-words do not come from my body…
Because I am in search of the Subject with my heart and soul…and I was closing my eyes… to …return towards…it’s nostalgia towards the One, and the research is the start…
And until I feel that my feet do not touch the ground, seeing all as one, because we leave alone towards the One-and-only.
And this subject, in the sensible world we could describe him, since we cannot define him, it is not the right words for, but we can say that:
He is in a “present” independent of time, in an “everywhere” without location, and in an infinite without a beginning.
Because apparently, we did not have words for….in the sensible nothing is sure, and furthermore, the sensible is too short…
So I have to transcend myself to realize that He is immanent in this world…there.
And we are convinced by knowledge and beliefs from faith…one being always true and the other sometimes…and mashallah, I was born in the best path
Because we have to search to know the “self”, I know it’s personal, it’s a little … every man for himself … But we have one thing that unites us,Allah, being the because of all our whys …
It is said that he who seeks …will see him…immanent in the world. Just too pure!
And he was the first Intellect, Supreme and all … in the sensible
He was looking for that peaceful absolute … so he had to learn as much as possible …
And as He is immanent in him, he is in the world … it is not impossible …
And why are you looking so much … when you know the answer was saying some …
He said that the answer did not matter … and that he knows nothing … he is a dust of emptiness in front of him …
Because you had to understand and contemplate … And he closed his eyes … certainly being in search of … He said to himself, seek, acquire and learn … since the antidote to happiness lies in the drops knowledge … that fell through the time … patience and effort will make you find The Being…
In the eyes of others, he is crazy … he is looking for anything and everything because he believes that anything is possible … It’s just words, because we do not have the right words for … even meta-words are still words… so understand the indefinable! Be in search of yourself … that’s what matters!

This is just words,just words

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International Women’s Day! http://www.khaama.com/international-womens-day http://www.khaama.com/international-womens-day#comments Tue, 08 Mar 2011 14:10:21 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=2279 International Women’s Day!
Afghanistan:  International Women’s Day has been observed since in the early 1900′s, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies. IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Read the full article...]]>
International Women’s Day!

Afghanistan:  International Women’s Day has been observed since in the early 1900′s, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.

IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The tradition sees men honoring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother’s Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.

The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women’s and society’s thoughts about women’s equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that ‘all the battles have been won for women’ while many feminists from the 1970′s know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women’s visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.  

However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives.

 Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, and government activities and networking events through to local women’s craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.

 Many global corporations have also started to more actively support IWD by running their own internal events and through supporting external ones. For example, on 8 March search engine and media giant Google some years even changes its logo on its global search pages. Year on year IWD is certainly increasing in status. The United States even designates the whole month of March as ‘Women’s History Month’.

 So make a difference, think globally and act locally!! Make everyday International Women’s Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding! KP

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Prince William and Kate: What Wedding Gift Should Our Country Give them? http://www.khaama.com/prince-william-and-kate-what-wedding-gift-should-our-country-give-them http://www.khaama.com/prince-william-and-kate-what-wedding-gift-should-our-country-give-them#comments Thu, 02 Dec 2010 04:02:37 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=1181 Prince William and Kate: What Wedding Gift Should Our Country Give them?
By: Moe Riyasat The thought of a wedding gift won’t have crossed our minds if the media hadn’t turned the news into a feeding-frenzy. The news had just broken: the royal engagement was announced. Prince William finally proposed to Kate Middleton, and what began as a slow day for the media, turned into feverish, bee-hive, Read the full article...]]>
Prince William and Kate: What Wedding Gift Should Our Country Give them?

By: Moe Riyasat

The thought of a wedding gift won’t have crossed our minds if the media hadn’t turned the news into a feeding-frenzy.

The news had just broken: the royal engagement was announced. Prince William finally proposed to Kate Middleton, and what began as a slow day for the media, turned into feverish, bee-hive, activity. The media hounded us, pounded us, and then shifted the story into hyper-drive.  CNN told us, David Letterman told us, the tabloids told us, and even if we still didn’t hear, the village idiot would’ve told us. 

But don’t be distracted by media noise. The real tooth-and-claw action is in trying to get an invitation to the royal wedding: the hottest ticket in the world; and some people are going out of their way to snag it. Old boys’ networks are unearthed and dusted off, favours are called in, buttons pushed, and if all else fails, indecent proposals traded.   

      However, the elusive invitation is frustrating everyone, especially leaders of countries who’re hell-bent on getting it.  You’ll find Presidents, Prime Ministers, and imposters, worldwide, making burnt offerings at dawn, praying that their names are on the guest-list for the wedding, while their spouses are out-sprinting their ancient butlers to check the mailboxes daily, for the royal invitation. They’re all obsessed, becoming basket cases.

       While they’re busy on the lookout for the royal-sealed envelope, it’s in our best interest to help the leader of our country choose the perfect gift for the soon-to-wed couple. After all, we have a stake in it: the gift would represent us too, courtesy of our tax dollars.

       In helping our leader choose the perfect gift for Prince William and Kate, we’ll need to brainstorm and ask a few probing questions, similar to these:

Does size matter?

      We know that the British monarchy has been in existence for centuries. This means that they have thousands upon thousands of paintings, sculptures, handicrafts and keepsakes, gathering dust; and nothing is ever thrown out. As a result of the hoarding problem, there’s a shortage of real estate in the castle and only a couple of bedrooms remain free of stuff. 

So since space is critical, size matters.  

Is it made in China?

      These days, just about everything is made in China. It goes without saying that if we give something “Made in China” to the couple, then it becomes a Chinese gift. A Chinese leader could always show up at the wedding empty-handed, and claimed that it came from him. Could we say otherwise?

The moral of the story: before selecting an item as a present, check where it’s made.

Can it be duplicated? 

       Imagine going to a party and another person wears the same outfit you have on. Think of the emotional shock. Likewise, suppose another leader takes a similar gift as ours, to the royal wedding? The result: our gift won’t stand out and won’t be remembered.

       So the rule of thumb becomes: if it can be duplicated, ditch it, let it go, get rid of it. No hoarding allowed here.  

How expensive should it be?

       The Prim & Proper Advice Column reminded us that at a wedding, it’s polite to give a gift worth more than the cost of a plate of food served at the wedding.

      We can easily get the cost of a plate of food from a simple question: what is the cost of two sprigs of asparagus fencing-in a scrawny chicken leg and resting on an oversized Royal Doulton dinner plate?

      Using that cost as the bare minimum amount to spend, and the maximum amount being our national budget, we could go as expensive as needed, as long as it doesn’t cause taxes to rise or cause a peasants’ revolt.

Is it creative?

       A set of tall beer glasses bought at the dollar store, as the gift, may not identify who we’re as a nation, even if the tall glasses are frosted and dimpled. 

      Our gift should be creative, unique, representing the psyche of the country and coming from deep within our culture.  We could look for guidance from our artisans, sculptors, painters, etc.

                                             

And, will it wow the royal couple?

       An oil painting of two chimpanzees scratching their lower body parts, and grinning, may not impress the royal couple, regardless of the price of the frame. It may even rile up the Royal ancestors.

       In wowing Prince William and Kate, our gift should be something unexpected, something  desirable, and something to be treasured.

In closing:

      After we’ve brainstormed, probed, and thought of the perfect gift, it’ll be in our best interest  to suggest it to our leader in time for the wedding. Hopefully, they will listen to us (as was their election promise), and give a gift that will personalize the nation and do us all proud. Equally important, the gift should make Price William and Kate ecstatic and their families thrilled.

 Best wishes on your choice of a gift.

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Political Poetry in Afghanistan http://www.khaama.com/political-poetry-in-afghanistan http://www.khaama.com/political-poetry-in-afghanistan#comments Fri, 03 Sep 2010 04:06:32 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=515 Political Poetry in Afghanistan
Political Poetry, perhaps, was born when it stood against politics and said: “I don’t accept  you!” In other words, political poetry originates from its encounter with politics. In fact, when poetry withdraws from politics, it politicizes itself, because abandoning politics is a politics of another kind. Even the discussion on the relation of poetry with Read the full article...]]>
Political Poetry in Afghanistan

Political Poetry, perhaps, was born when it stood against politics and said: “I don’t accept  you!” In other words, political poetry originates from its encounter with politics. In fact, when poetry withdraws from politics, it politicizes itself, because abandoning politics is a politics of another kind. Even the discussion on the relation of poetry with politics is a political issue.

 

Initially the encounter of poetry with politics starts when society, which is the source and breeding ground of poetry, is monitored and administrated by politics. Politics wants the society to be explained as it wants; however, poetry on the other hand has a language of its own. Politics is bossy, thus in the very first meeting it offers red, green and black spectacles to poetry and commands it to look at world behind those glasses and praise it. Nonetheless, poetry rejects this gift and answers “I can see the world brighter without the glasses.” 

 

This antagonism is a long lasting one. And today’s world political poetry is but the memoir of this opposition. This tale is “to be continued” for ages and at times politics replace the eyeglasses with marks of burning iron bars. It is this story that narrates that a thousand year ago; they put the burning iron bars on eyes of Rodaki Samarqandi, one of Persian Dari’s fathers, and blinded that great lord of poetry. Perhaps Rodaki, my grand forefather, had not accepted a master’s gift.

 

By resisting the politics, poetry not only politicizes itself but also proclaims its opposition with history, similar to intellectuals who have always opposed history. With this view, the great poets are great intellectuals too, because they are not only in opposition with the tide of history and politics but are in favor of its change as well.

 

When Hafiz says 700 year ago

 

بیا تا گـل  بر افشانیم و می در ساغر اندازیم

فلک را سقف بشگافیم و طرح نو در اندازیم

 

Let us diffuse flower and pour wine in goblets

And pierce the roof of sky and establish a new system

 

He not only announces his opposition with the traditions of that age, but also wishes its change. 

 

Or when Naser Khosrow Balkhi, a great philosopher and poet of Persian Dari, says in the 11th century:

 

من آنم که در پای خوکان نریزم

مراین قیمتی  در لفــــظ دری را

 

I am not the one who spoils the invaluable pearls of Dari under the feet of “pigs”

 

He truly stands for the reverences and purity of words and conveys the message to the poets in palace, not to contaminate the spotlessness of poetry.

 

These were examples of saying “no” to politics and the dominant political structure.

 

However, it does not always occur like this. Sometimes poetry, retreats to the ivory tower of isolation after withdrawing politics. The poets domiciled in the ivory tower shut themselves away from themselves and get swamped in making love to the imaginary beloveds. The importance and value of this kind of poetry is related merely to its literary and aesthetic aspects. From the social or political points of view, it may be considered as neutral.

 

Political poetry is not just a literary phenomenon of our era but it has always existed and till the end of the world the encounter of poetry with politics will continue; however, only the methods of this opposition changes.

 

Moreover, it is of great significance to consider political poetry and politicized poetry as two different concepts. Political poetry, as said earlier, emerges from the antagonism with dominant politics and political structure; whereas, politicized poetry is the surrendered form of poetry to political circumstances. Intellectual poets have always written political poetry but they have never written poetry for politics because they understand that doing so means mortifying themselves and the poetry. Besides, as politics open a new chapter, the politicized poetry serving that cause, dies too. Had the world poets navigated their sails in the direction of political winds, doubtlessly, neither we had Shahnamaye Ferdowsi in the Persian poetry, nor had we الیاد و ادیسه هومر  و یاهم کمیدی الهی  دانته in Western poetry.

 

The worst example of politicized poetry is the 70 years of socialism dominance. During this period in the socialist states, poetry does not only become a variable to the ideological politics and structures but also assumes an ideological nature. It befall the worst disasters to literature of these countries, Afghanistan was one of which. Today socialism is a part of history together with all it red and black ideas and thus socialistic realism has also faded away.

 

Political poetry is deeply rooted in Persian Dari. In fact, poetry started in this language with politics. Hanzala Badghisi, who is considered as the first poet of Persian Dari, lived in early 9th century. This piece attributed to him is thought to be the first one in Persian Dari.

 

 

مهتری  گر به کام شیر در است

شـــــو خطرکن زکام شیر بجوی

یا بـزرگی و عـــزو نعمت وجاه

یا چومـردانت مـرگ رویا روی

 

Even if eminence is in lion’s mouth

Risk to achieve it

Either dignity, respect and esteem

Or a man’s death

 

Hanzala had written this piece when his country was in great plight under the Arab atrocity. In this piece he compares freedom and death and encourages people to freedom, pride and fight against foreign invasion. The theme of this poetry is resistance and thus it can be said that both political and resistance poetry in Persian Dari starts from 9th century.

 

However, the discourse of modern political poetry in Afghanistan dates back to early 20th century. The publication of Saraj-ul-Akhbar daily in 1911 may be considered the advent of modern era in political poetry of Afghanistan. Political poetry was interwoven with “Mashroteyat” or “Constitutional” movements in those times. This movement was commenced by Afghan intellectuals, writers, poets and social activists with an aim to ensure complete political freedom and constitutional system in Afghanistan.

 

Following that in the democracy decade (1963 – 1973) political poetry got mixed with right and left ideologies. Another outcome of this decade was the creation of communists and Islamic political organizations and political parties. All these organization widely used poetry as a means of propagating their ideological thoughts. 

 

Left Communist movements considered poetry as an effective weapon which should not have been put on ground. In that period the concepts of proletarian revolution, praising proletariat, the peasant, socialism and Linen was recorded for the first time in Persian Dari literature history. The poetry structures introduced in the beginning of the century were developed primarily by the poets affiliated with communist movements. One of the characteristics of that period’s poetry was its ideological and rebellious nature which invited people to revolt against the government.  

 

The communist coup d’état in 1978 linked poetry to political and ideological structures more than any time in Afghanistan’s history. In those years, there was a line which existed every where. It was a red line which divided people to the revolutionary and reactionary fractions. This line divided the poets to two parts of revolutionary and reactionary poets as well. The party poets who wrote poetry against the government in the democracy decade, had turned into the admirers of government and would despise the independent poets.

The independent poets mainly faced three fates. Some of them were executed in Pul-e Charkhi prison. Some others spent theirs lives behind the bar and the remaining fled into Iran and Pakistan and established the overseas resistance literature.

Afghan literature, on one hand, greatly underwent politicized, ideological and governmental experiences in those years. On the other, the resistance poetry became more prominent than ever. Particularly in 1980’s internal resistance poetry flourished greatly.

 

It is worth-mentioning that no government in Afghanistan, in order to pursue its political aims, misused literature and arts more than the puppet communist regime. This not only paved the way for ideological, governmental and politicized literature but also provided a good ground for anti-government literature.

 

The poets affiliated with Jihadi groups had an instrumental approach with poetry too. After the triumph of Mujahidin over the communists, the Jihadi poets turned into governmental poets and considered the other poets remaining in Kabul as communists. The Mujahidin reign was a period of severe bloodshed in Kabul; however, these incidents had not been reflected in writings of Jihadi poets at all. In that period, Mujahidin burned thousands of books published during the communists’ regime as woods in heaters. I myself was a witness of thousands books of “Afghanistan Writers Association” being burnt by them. Caravans of refugees from Afghanistan became more and more and more poets deserted the country.

 

Taliban who entered Kabul with rhythmic slogans, opposed romantic poetry because they considered it would promote ethical vice among young people. Locking the doors of cultural and artistic centers, they made the poets understood that Afghanistan was no longer a suitable place for them. As a result, many well-known poets left the country, many of whom migrated to Peshawar, Pakistan. This led to another expansion of Afghan cultural activities in Peshawar.

 

Women’s poetry could hardly breathe during Mujahidin rule in Afghanistan and completely muted during the Taliban’s. Compelling everyone to observe silence, the whips left no well-known women poet remain in the country.

 

Afghanistan has entered a new phase of socio-political life since the collapse of Taliban in November 2001

 

 

Seemingly, there are some proving grounds for nurturing and promoting poetry in the country. The country has joined the PEN International as a dynamic member, and has currently a functioning Afghan PEN in its capital city, Kabul

 

Still, needless to say, both literature in general and poetry in particular have been seriously marginalized by other practical means of life. This in turn has resulted in placing Afghan intellectual (both writers and poets) in an awkward situation. They have mainly been feeling isolated, cornered and suffering from significant down mood.

 

Undoubted, Afghan writers and poet presume their existence as low-cast strata, and almost as aimless as paper trash trivia.

 

The current wave of poetry in Afghanistan  maintain its presence in a number of those highly-committed poets and writers who see their destiny tightly inter-related to their literary products.

 

The once-powerful voice of Afghan poem has been mainly under-echoed and therefore has remained less-heard. The chaos of widespread noises of explosion, violence and firing are becoming a kind of daily routine over-shadowing literature in general.

 

The prospect hardly seems to be a joy. The vision and the “prime objective” that used to be the greatest motif for composing quality poem are no more as tangible as they once were. As a country, widely based on “visualization”, Afghanistan is on the grips of “free market” now. It may be safe to say that the then highly-observed-vision has painfully undergone the fever of market and the so-called market values.

 

The unavoidable influence of English commonly-used terminologies in Farsi and Pashto is another notable challenge for these two local Afghan languages. It is quite evident that the course of time will sooner or later display a mosaic of “ready made” languages, perhaps called Englo-Persian (Pers-English) and Englo-Pashtu (Pasht-English).

 

Presently, English is the dominant and prevailing medium of communication in over 2000 National and International Afghanistan-based NGOs offices, and a wide range of governmental institutions. Moreover, the burning desire to learn English and various computer programs (which of course are in English) is attracting a huge number of youth. This not only hinders the enthusiasm to better learn their mother tongue but affects the indigenous process of learning science and culture in their initial language as well.

 

 

In the absence of a clear and specific cultural policy, the Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture has been unable to publish as minimum as five books in the span of five years

 

Still, it is striking to note that a peculiar type of “resistance poetry” is on once again on the verge of emerging from the existing wave of poem, most of which appears as satire.

 

To conclude, a thorough and meticulous research of poetry in general and political poetry in particular in the post-Taliban years is yet to be undertaken.

 

Political poems have gradually gained more strength. Presumably, poetry and politics have been and still are proceeding along as two co-travelers, marching as two parallel vectors.

 

Can this notion still exist that poetry does not have any feature but to praise beauty and bring joy and we shall not load the heavy burden of social and political issues on its soft shoulders? I do not know, but I feel this notion can only exist in a utopia, where love rules, where triggers are unknown to hands, where ears and unfamiliar to explosions and where freedom is another name for life. But in a country where one’s Musalmani “Belief in Islam” is measured form the length of his beards, and its city’s rivers smell blood and where blood grows instead of red flowers in the garden and where bread is the hot topic, poetry can never be a silent spectator sitting in its beautiful ivory tower. Yes, if poetry is not political in such lands, it should be made political.

  8th Oct 2006

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By Partaw Naderi

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