An english translation of ‘Poetry of the Taliban‘ will be published in the U.S. later this month, hoping to expand our ideas about them from ultra-religious monsters to emotionally complex monsters. Since 9/11, American journalism has framed the Taliban as a threat to freedom and peace so any article that attempted even to empathize with them or show cultural aspects that were not negative got shot down. This poetry anthology, which covers thirty years of writings, will help us to better understand the thoughts and feelings of the people living in Afghanistan.
As translators Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn explain, the poetry broadly covers five themes: “love and pastoral themes, religion, politics and social discontent, the battlefield, and the costs of war in human terms”. They tried to capture a range of expressions, including ways in which women feel free or trapped, men hunters or hunted.
The translators stress that their work is not meant to be politically divisive. It serves as a mirror into the culture and art of the Taliban, to help us understand who our enemies really are.