Taliban Poetry adds a sonnet or two to tonight’s reading group

Surely the only way to understand Afghanistan is to listen to all voices:

A British publisher has defended its decision to release a collection of poems penned by members of the Taliban.

The book comprises more than 200 works which centre on insurgents’ experiences during the decade-long conflict and document “the thrill of battle”.

A former commander of British forces in Helmand has denounced the collection as enemy propaganda but publisher Hurst and Co has stood by its plans to release the book.

In their introduction to Poetry of the Taliban, editors Alex Strick van Linschoten, Felix Kuehn, and Faisal Devji say they compiled the anthology not for its novelty value but “as a way of understanding who the Taliban are”.

The book is one of a number of volumes being released by Hurst and Co.

Managing director Michael Dwyer said: “All these books, including Poetry of the Taliban, contribute to our knowledge of Afghanistan and the vicissitudes endured by its people in recent decades.”

His comments came after former commander of British forces in Helmand, Colonel Richard Kemp, warned against “being taken in by a lot of self-justifying propaganda”.

“What we need to remember is that these are fascist, murdering thugs who suppress women and kill people without mercy if they do not agree with them, and of course are killing our soldiers,” he told The Guardian. It doesn’t do anything but give the oxygen of publicity to an extremist group which is the enemy of this country.”

The collection, due to be released this month in a hardback edition, is described as offering an “unfettered insight into the wider worldview of the Afghan Taliban”.

According to the publisher, it comprises poems of “unrequited love, vengeance, the thrill of battle, religion and nationalism” and a “yearning for non-violence”.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

Site by Common