World Bulletin/News Desk
Armed conflicts over the past four decades have left deep scars on everyday life in Afghanistan but as the country enters a new era of self-reliance, aspirations for peace are arousing more and more Afghan poets to craft a new shade in the country’s poetic landscape.
The dawn of the New Year has brought with it new challenges and opportunities for Afghanistan but while much of the focus has been on security and economy, the country's art scene is also seeking new prosperity.
The Afghan Literary Movement is a non-profit initiative by Afghan refugee poets founded during the 1990s. In the heart of the Afghan capital Kabul’s old Bazaar, by the Kabul river, the tallest building “Cinema-e-Pamir” is home to the group, which nurtures new poetic ideas in modern Afghanistan. Seasoned as well as young and emerging poets gather there every Friday to enjoy an evening of poetry.
“Peace is one of the fundamental needs of human life, so if there is a dearth of peace, like in Afghanistan, then the aspirations for it would ultimately be as loud as it can be,” says Pir Muhammad Karwan, a founding member of the movement, referring to the ideas inspiring modern poetry in the country.
Karwan recalls how he and a handful of other Afghan poets used to spend time together in Peshawar, Pakistan, where they were refugees during the Russian invasion and then the civil war in Afghanistan in the 1980s and 1990s.
“Soon we realized the need for a proper platform to save and nurture our art,” he says, explaining the beginning of the Afghan Literacy Movement.
Recently, lots of poems focusing on the idea of peace have been able to reach the public as musical hits.
“Yesterday, I learned it will be peace now! Finally, our mornings and evenings are made!” is one of the lyrics almost every Afghan would be able to recall. It is from “Sola (peace)”, a song by the charismatic female singer Breshna Amil and written by emerging poet Lalaqa Shirzad.
As Karwan explained, more and more young poets are choosing to write about peace, love for a normal life and rebuilding the country.
Out of all forms of art, poetry stands as the most popular and accepted genre in the Afghan society. The country takes pride in giving birth to globally acclaimed genius Maulana Jalaluddin Balkhi, more commonly known globally as Rumi, as well as Khushal Khan Khattak, the 17th century poet and warrior king and many others.
Among the living legends is Sulaiman Layeq, a revolutionary poet in his late 80s who played an instrumental role in paving the way for the Saur Revolution, the communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan’s takeover of government in April 1978.
“Those were different times then,” said Layeq, referring to the subjects influencing Afghan poetry then and now.
“In our days, the communal ideas for freedom, more rights and equality were attracting more and more hearts and minds, similarly these days people want peace and security.”
Layeq has more than ten books of poetry credited to his name and an equal command over both the Pashto and Dari languages common in Afghanistan's multi-ethnic society.
Recently seven decades of Layeq’s artistic brilliance were celebrated by Afghan poets across the ideological spectrum, who wanted to pay homage to his craft, even if they disagreed with his beliefs.
Back at the Afghan Literary Movement in Kabul, its founder Karwan is not bothered about shrinking foreign aid, which has helped fund many of Afghanistan's art programs, following the withdrawal of foreign forces.
“We have kept this organization extremely humble and independent without taking a single penny of aid either from the Afghan or foreign government and would do so in the future,” he promises, as the bunch of emerging poets gathered at his poetry night prepare for the journey home.
Last Mod: 08 Ocak 2015, 00:09