For centuries, poetry has been a way of expression and spreading new ideas in Afghanistan.
Fozia Wali-Zada, the Head of Dari Department, Faculty of Literature in Baghlan University, believes that poetry is ingrained in the soul and culture of Afghans.
“Based on categories, there are three kinds of poetry: epic, lyric and educational,” said Wali-zada. “Most of the poets mainly use one of these three forms when writing poems, but some poets use all three. There is no right or wrong way, or any standard way to write poems in Afghan literature. All methods are acceptable.”
Mohammad Qasim Sarwari, a poet in Baghlan, chose the beauty of Afghanistan as the subject matter for his poems. As a small child, he used to contemplate how to describe the beauty of his country. He found his answer in capturing the beauty of his beloved country through poetry. It was a dream come true for him.
“My father used to encourage me to read Dewan-e Hafiz poetry collection,” said Sarwari, the 52-year-old poet. “Hafiz’s poems led me to write my own.”
Sarwari lives within the Baghi-e Qawa-Khana area of Pul-e Khumri, the provincial capital. He was born into an educated family. His father was a mullah who knew that education was the best gift he could give to his children. As an open-minded father, he was convinced that education is the way to a good future. For him it was important and clear that his children should go to school to learn and to become enlightened citizens.
Sarwari followed his father’s aspirations; he studied and started to write poems. He was 18 when his first poem was published in a local magazine. Those were unfortunate times. The country was ruled by tyrants who did not like Sarwari to convey beautiful ideas such as freedom and peace. Sarwari was sent to jail for five years.
“In jail I realised how important life is with all its beauty. How important it is to have the rights of freedom, happiness and education. Today, I want to write about all the things that I missed in jail,” he said.
After Sarwari’s release from prison, he continued his mission. His poetry collection now runs into the hundreds, for which he has received great appreciation from his fans and literary figures.
One of Sarwari’s fans is Ghollam Aly, deputy chief, Baghlan Culture Affairs. Aly is deeply interested in poetry. He told Sada-e Azadi that he remembered the first time Sarwari brought a poem to him for publication.
“Even today, I feel the impression the epic poem by Sarwari had on me when he brought to our department,” said Aly. “I am proud of him and I have been encouraging him to narrate more such poems.”
Sarwari has written over 200 poems (one of them is part of the poetry section in the current issue of Sada-e Azadi). His fans have promised him full support if he decides to publish his collection.
But Sarwari has a clear target in mind. He wants to complete a triple century of poems before his work is published as a book.
“These poems, which I am working on, are diverse” says Sarwari, “and I’m sure that my fans and readers will find their favourite verses in the collection. I am proud that I can serve my country and culture through poetry.”