Detroit Poet in the War Zone: M. L. Liebler Rides the Kandahar Beat # 6



I met some very hip writers Kabul filmmakers, painters and musicians at the Afghan Cultural House (the MOCAD of Kabul) I performed a few poems for them, which they said, “We like! We Like!” I did some “Blood in the Moon” (they seem very biggly on both blood and the moon over here). We talked Afghan poetry, fiction, artwork and music. I told those established writers in the audience that I sincerely believed there would be a market for their work in America where there is a serious lack of literature and art from a country we have been involved intensely with for nearly 12 years. They seemed encouraged. I gave them some of my CDs for themselves and the art club’s library. Before I left, a young Afghan woman artist showed me here paintings on slides on her iPHONE. They were very impressive, advanced and colorful with pieces of human hair inserted into the art. She asked me to collaborate by putting some of my new poems to her paintings. She said she created her work as a statement on behalf of women’s liberation for the women of Afghanistan. This is very brave to do over here where women are treated as second class (or less) citizens. I told her we would collaborate, and I thought I could get the book published over here in the US. I am awaiting the files of her paintings to start my poems.

Friday is their Sunday over here. It was, also, my day off to get some R&R. The Cultural Affairs Officer, a very cool dude and major Rolling Stones fan, took me to the weekly Friday bazaar on a military compound. I found some less than legit DVD’s, bought several Pashtu hats (I'm modeling one in the photo), cool Afghan scarves, and I picked my band mate and poetry partner Faruq Z. Bey up some genuine amber prayers beads and a cool new Muslim lid that I am sure he’ll sport the next time you see him playing in Motown. I watched the Embassy softball team play in a field on the other compound (the Tigers have been on The Armed Forces Network every morning here live from the West Coast-O Yea!), and I headed home to fully relax because the next day we were heading to  Kandahar. The trip to the gig consisted of a Department of State small jet, a Chinook Helicopter ride, and a four tank / MRAP convoy to an undisclosed location in Kandahar to meet 30 plus local poets who were the primo poets on the Kandahar po-scene. We had a wonderful two hour session reading our poems to each other and discussing the importance of poetry in Afghan and American societies. I told them all about the hip scene we have in Detroit. One poet dude looked like Smokey Robinson. He never heard of Motown, so I sang a course of “Being With You.” I can tell you all that poetry is really important here. I performed my spiritual piece “Deliver Me” with the Coltrane’s “Love Supreme” riff, and they went bonkers because religion is huge here, and I was displaying my faith in God/Allah. I taught them to click their fingers after poems and say “dig that!” They was much clicking and digging after that one. Then the head of the organization stood up and said in Pashtu: “Your visit here today is more important than 500, 000 US soldiers in Afghanistan.” Needless to say, I was moved very deeply when I heard the translation. I told them that we were all meant to meet in that location on that day long before we were all born, and that Saturday we were fulfilling our destinies. After the gig, we were hustled out to the tanks by a team of fantastic Army staff heavily armed and ready for anything that might happen. They circled us, walked us into the tanks, and we drove back to the base. Does stuff like this really happen to a working class kid from Motown? Hard for me to believe still.

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