Mirman Baheer is Afghanistan’s largest women’s literary society, and in Kabul has more than 100 members drawn primarily from the Afghan elite: professors, parliamentarians, journalists and scholars. They travel on city buses to their Saturday meetings, their faces uncovered, wearing high-heeled boots. But in the outlying provinces — Khost, Paktia, Maidan, Wardak, Kunduz, Kandahar, Herat and Farah — the society’s members number about three hundred. In rural areas, Mirman Baheer functions largely in secret. Many of the rural members have to use mobile phones to participate at meetings, calling whenever they can, often at great personal risk. They read their poems to the group by phone and these are then transcribed line by line. To conceal poetry writing from their family, they rely on pen names.Traditionally women writing poetry is seen as shameful and could result in a beating or even death.