Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Matiullah Turab - Afghan smith of metal and words

Matiullah Turab is nearly illiterate. He is a metal smith by day and poet by night. He relies on his mind to retain his poems.

“A poet’s job is not to write about love,” he growls, his booming voice blending with the ambient noise of the workshop. “A poet’s job is not to write about flowers. A poet must write about the plight and pain of the people.”

That’s Turab’s choice. He is a people of the poet.

“With his unflinching words, Mr. Turab offers a voice for Afghans grown cynical about the war and its perpetrators: the Americans, the Taliban, the Afghan government, Pakistan.”

Even in translation, his poetry exhibits brilliance:

War has turned into a trade
Heads have been sold
as if they weigh like cotton,
and at the scales sit such judges
who taste the blood, then decide the price


O flag-beareres of the world,
you have pained us a lot in the name of
you cry of peace and security,
and you dispatch guns and ammunition


O graveyard of skulls and oppression
Rip this earth open and come out
They taunt me with your blood,
and you lie intoxicated with thoughts of virgins.

[From the International Herald Tribune - Pakistan print edition]

See the full story in the New York Times of August 19, or International Herald Tribune of August 20, 2013. Here is the link:

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