Desolation by Partaw Naderi
In Afghanistan as in Somalia poetry has played a decisive role in recent history. "The mujahideen sang poems going into battle Partaw says. The communist government tried it too. Then when the Taliban arrived in Kabul they were reciting poetry." He stayed for a year under Taliban rule watching as they closed down publications and locked up artists and writers. Finally he fled to Pakistan where he found others who were expressing themselves in verse drawing on traditions that reach back to the 13th century and the Sufi mystic Jalal al-Din Rumi - himself a refugee who fled his home in northern Afghanistan ahead of the Mongol invasion. "We say poems are part of our mother's milk Partaw says, and that all of our culture came through poetry."