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The tender poetry of... the Taliban?

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Taliban poetry. The very idea may make some people snort. How can a group of mountain fighters who spent weeks shelling the face off stone Buddha statues and ordered millions of Afghan women to cover their faces under burqas, have anything of value to say about beauty?

You’d be surprised.

Following a release in Britain a few months ago, "The Poetry of the Taliban" has been released this week in the United States, published by Columbia University Press.

I will let the literary set decide what is good poetry or bad poetry, although the estimable New-Delhi-based British historian William Dalrymple did have this to say:

“This extraordinary collection is remarkable as a literary project – uncovering a seam of war poetry few will know ever existed, and presenting to us for the first time the black turbaned Wilfred Owens of Wardak. But it is also an important political project: humanizing and giving voice to the aspirations, aesthetics, emotions, and dreams of the fighters of a much-caricatured and still little-understood resistance movement that is about to defeat yet another foreign occupation.”

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