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Issue 32

The Arabic Ghazal Challenge

One purpose of the challenge to write an Arabic ghazal, following David Jalajel’s rules, is to encourage poets to extend the possibilities of the ghazal as a form for English poetry. The nine ghazals presented here show a variety of responses to the challenge. I hope that these results will lead to the submission of more ghazals using the Arabic approach.

The ghazals presented here show several approaches to adapting the Arabic form to poetry in English. Kathee Rogers’ “Piyut: Desire for my Beloved” relates to a much earlier adaptation of Arabic poetry by Hebrew poets in Al-Andalus (medieval Spain). The site, Medieval Hebrew Poetry, contains a lot of information to get you started, including an article on piyyut. A Web search for piyyut will produce many hits; the page linked above is a good place to start.

In the past, there’ve been no editor’s comments on the special issues. In this case, the comments will supply some context and perspective for reading the ghazals. Reading the poems always takes precedence, of course.

Contents
Taylor Graham Separations
Caroline Gill A Lonely Soul
Linda Umans night blooming jasmine
Susan Melot Baroque Scores
Colin Flanigan Comes a Song
Michael Helsem A Bailiff
Fergus Carty Cubit’s Arrow
Jessy Murphy Behind the River
Kathee Rogers Piyut: Desire for my Beloved’s Eyes
Editor’s comments

The Arabic Ghazal Challenge

This challenge is to write an English ghazal using the Arabic approach described by David Jalajel.

There are some key aspects to this challenge:

Here are some options for you to decide:

Send your ghazals (1 –) for this challenge by 1 March 2010. It’s preferable if you send them in the body of a text-only email, but if you wish, send an attached word-processor document. I should be able to open almost any format. In your email, tell me that

I will look forward to a number of excellent poems.

There are several examples in David Jalajel’s article on using the Arabic approach to the ghazal. You may group lines as he has done. Here’s a ghazal I wrote as an example in addition to David Jalajel’s:

Before pouring olive oil into the pan, I chop garlic
on the wooden board, opening a garden with each strike.
My Darling rises before me, before the sun and Sirius,
the star of these Dog Days of summer, star of heat stroke.
In the yard, two rabbits sit calmly, pausing from their meal
to keep an eye on me and the dog, fearful of any trick.
Ingmar Bergman died today; I imagine his funeral filmed
in his manner, shades of gray, its settings cool and stark.
Paging through Arberry’s translation of Rumi’s ghazals,
I pause for any passage where the words find me awake.
Gino, I can’t imagine why you spend your time threading
words on these shaky lines, never naming What you seek.

Here is the same ghazal with each “couplet” presented as a single line:

Before pouring olive oil into the pan, I chop garlic on the wooden board, opening a garden with each strike.
My Darling rises before me, before the sun and Sirius, the star of these Dog Days of summer, star of heat stroke.
In the yard, two rabbits sit calmly, pausing from their meal to keep an eye on me and the dog, fearful of any trick.
Ingmar Bergman died today; I imagine his funeral filmed in his manner, shades of gray, its settings cool and stark.
Paging through Arberry’s translation of Rumi’s ghazals, I pause for any passage where the words find me awake.
Gino, I can’t imagine why you spend your time threading words on these shaky lines, never naming What you seek.

Either format is fine for this challenge.

About larrygates

Web developer of Ghazal Page. Sometime pseudonymous ghazalkar.

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