Sharp-Edged Verse in 21st Century Afghanistan: From the Silence and War to the Wide Open Page, An Analysis of Socio-Political Dimensions in Women’s Poetry
AuthorHervey, Felisa Marie
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation examines 21st century, post-Taliban themes and trends in Afghan women’s Persian Dari poetry, focusing on the socio-political layers of its most prominent motifs. It argues that women’s contemporary poetic expressions constitute contextually and culturally powerful means of indirect women’s activism in Afghanistan. Utilizing a multi-disciplinary approach involving literary translation and analysis complemented by ethnographic interviews and methods, this project identifies prominent contemporary Afghan women poets and major themes in their poetry, examining how their work interacts with and addresses social and political spheres. Post-2001 Afghan women’s poetry engages heavily with socio-political themes, whether directly or metaphorically, expressing and exposing issues such as gendered violence, corruption, government oppression, religious tradition, and the trauma of war and exile. Many images that do not appear immediately related to socio-political themes reveal layers of metaphorical meaning that address these topics with great subtlety. As a backdrop and foundation for this prevailing trend, the act of writing poetry itself for many Afghan women during the post-Taliban period constitutes a socio-political statement. Poets use their art as a means of formulating and asserting identity, demanding recognition, questioning or criticizing the status quo, and proposing alternative visions for society’s future. This dissertation makes a timely contribution to scholarship on contemporary literature in Afghanistan, making new translations of Afghan women’s poetry available for the broader English-speaking community. It engages in new contextually informed literary analysis of poetry previously unavailable outside Afghanistan, enriched by interviews with poets and literary scholars in Afghanistan and enhanced by a creative narrative voice. One of the effects of this research is to decisively interrupt simplistic assumptions or perceptions that Afghan women on the whole are uneducated, oppressed, powerless, or resigned to their fates. On the contrary, their poetry reveals the incisive efforts of educated and politically informed women to shape the intellectual, artistic, and socio-political circumstances of their time.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Middle Eastern & North African Studies