Poetry of the Taliban

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Alex Strick van Linschoten, Felix Kuehn, Mirwais Rahmany, Hamid Stanikzai
Columbia University Press, 2012 - Poetry - 247 pages
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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.

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About the author (2012)

Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn are researchers and writers who have worked in Afghanistan since 2006. Their research focuses on the Taliban insurgency and the history of southern Afghanistan over the past four decades. Their academic interests also extend to other Muslim countries. They are regular commentators on major Western news channels and editors of the acclaimed memoir of Abdul Salam Zaeef, My Life With the Taliban.

Faisal Devji is university reader in modern South Asian history at St. Antony's College, Oxford University, and the author of The Terrorist in Search of Humanity: Militant Islam and Global Politics.

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