Partaw Naderi born in 195 2 in Badakhshan province a region bordering present-day Tajikistan, Partaw Naderi is widely regarded as one of the foremost modernist posts of Afghanistan. Like many of his educated, Dari – speaking compatriots, he is steeped in classical Persian literature and the depth of this knowledge has had a marked impact on his poetry, notably his mastery of free verse, which remains comparatively unusual in contemporary Afghan poetry .Partaw has argued that it is this familiarity with classical poetry and his meters’ that has allowed him to risk writing free verse; and his metrical control, and the music of his poetry, is both daring and highly effective .
Outside observers of present-day Afghanistan, one of the most war-ravaged places on earth that is on the brink of becoming a failed state can have little awareness of the country’s extraordinary cultural heritage, since so little has been left intact. Universities, libraries, bookshops, publishers, magazines have all been systematically destroyed. Until the advent of internet (to which very few Afghans have access since most remain without electricity)it was virtually impossible to read contemporary poetry – or indeed any poetry ; for years, books could only be published and bought in Iran and Pakistan .Yet situated at the heart of the ancient silk Road, Afghanistan is the place where, over centuries, major civilizations met, exchanged ideas and flourished. The most famous poet in America’ (according to the BBC World Service) Mawlana Jalal-ad-Din Mohammad Rumi ,was born in Balkh ,and it is Rumi who has had the most profound influence on Partaw ‘s development as a poet.
It is unsurprising that partaw’s life has partaken of the tragic events that have waylaid his country. His promising career as a poet was cut short when he was arrested and imprisoned in the notorious pul-e-Charkhi prison outside Kabul by the soviet-backed regime in 1975. Undeterred, he used his three years of imprisonment to read and write as much as he was able, and he emerged with a deepened sense of the significance of poetry, especially during times of extreme conflict. Apart from a few years during the worst excesses of the Taliban regime when he was forced to seek refuge in Pakistan, Partaw doggedly remained in his country and he continues , today, to play an active part, especially online, in stimulating his people to strengthen their culture against all odds. As he writes in The Mirror; this determination to fight for his culture is hard won: ‘l come from the unending conflicts of wisdom / I have grasped the meaning of nothingness.
Those of us lucky enough to live in comfort in the west can often think that poetry is irrelevant and pointless, a mimority pursuit for the educated elite. Yet in many part of the world, including Afghanistan, poetry is the most important art form. Safe and cocooned in luxury, we forget how vital and essential the right to joy can be, how the first move of repressive regimes is to shut down its poets. Partaw once likened a poem to a spectrum formed by white light hitting a prism; the task of the poet being to fuse all the colors of the rainbow into a pure beam of light. Out of the darkness that is present-day Afghanistan, I hope that this small sample of Partaw’s poems will reveal the precision and power of his imagery, and the clarity and startling colors of his prismatic poems.