Good news: Seems like the Taliban have found out that the pen is mightier than the sword!

From what we know about the Taliban — ill-humoured, no taste for aesthetics, averse to the arts — poetry is the last thing one would associate with them. But, apparently, there are Taliban who, contrary to the popular stereotype, do appreciate the finer things of life — and even write poetry.

Proof: A leading British publisher is to bring out an English translation of a collection of Taliban poetry, and those who know about these things say that some of it is pretty good stuff. The Poetry of the Taliban, to be published on May 17, includes many love poems translated from Pashto, besides ballads about fighting and death on the battlefield.

Distinguished British poet Ruth Padel described the poems as “very moving” and the whole project as extremely “fascinating”. “Here's a uniquely rich oral tradition of poetry in the eye of an international political system,” she told the BBC. Alex Strick van Linschoten, one of the editors of the book, said the poems showed that the Taliban “are people like we are, with feelings, concerns, anxieties like ours”. But everyone is not amused and some have accused the editors and publishers of giving platform to terrorist propaganda. Michael Dwyer whose company is publishing the book told The Guardian that one anonymous caller denouncing the company for “giving voice to terrorists”. A former British soldier warned against giving “the oxygen of publicity to an extremist group which is the enemy of this country”. Poetry-lovers, however, believe censorship is a bad idea.

Keywords: TalibanLiteraturePoetry

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Arts, Entertainment & EventsMay 14, 2012