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Issue 34

The Book Challenge

Editor’s Comments

Everyone who responded to this challenge is a bibliophile: isn’t it natural that a lover of words would also love books? In any case, lovers of words and books should find satisfactions among these poems.

Two aspects of this special issue need comment: (1) David Jalajel’s poem below is not a ghazal but was inspired by the challenge. I’m using it as a proem to this issue because of its evocative technological, economic, historical survey of making books. (2) David Quentin Dauthier provided photos of a renaissance copy of Tacitus; those photos are the source of the decorations in this issue. Quentin says,

I’ve written this English “Book” Ghazal in a macaronic style using Dutch and Latin. I did this as an homage to the author of the book, who was a Roman (Tacitus) and to the commentator (Justus Lipsius or Joost Lips) and printer/publisher (Christoph Plantijn), who were both Dutch. The foreign words used are all cognate with English and can be easily understood.

Quentin has also provided a page of notes describing the book.

This is a poignant time to celebrate the “book” in ghazals: the advent of e-books and print-on-demand, the greater ease of self-publishing, the possibility to publish a book in paperless format — these and the stresses on copyright, profits, reviews, distribution,
and careers suggest that in a few years the “book” will have entirely changed. Recently, I bought a nice edition of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. After opening the package, I was fondling the book, and my wife observed, “You really love books, don’t you?” Yes, I do love books as physical objects as well as sources of ideas. Long live print!


David Jalajel

[upload] oblations, PDFs, hand-tooled tomes
our leather journals & photo albums, POD.
the ancient way

[buy] online: ISBN, local binding, used & rare
our home-schooling resources.

[identify] patterns, purges, a preface, reviews
our jacket blurbs & first editions.
customer help

[recollect] a common history, terrifying events
our carbon paper, photocopies.
other radical discipleships

[compile] links, known imprints, galley proofs
our dating methods, anomalies, 100s of technologies.

[schedule] names, ornaments, HTML lists, a code
our oldest volumes & codices.
writings on scrolls


Book Sense

Susan Melot Inscribed on stone, parchment, silk
Amy Greenspan Book Sense
Ben Johnson Of Books
The Sloven’s Assistant
Bernard Gieske A Part of Me
Master of the Delta
Shelley M. Peters The Evolution of Books
Taylor Graham A Man of Books
Ezekiel, The Print-Shop Boy

Antiek Book

Michael Helsem Yesterday’s Pleasures
David Quentin Dauthier Antiek boek: een Ghazal

The Eternal Book

Tree Riesener Jorge Luis Borges’ The Book of Sand
Ellen Head The tribe that can not say We
Mary Rokhvadze Ghazal
Conrad Geller The Book
Sarah Mohr Bedtime Stories
The Eternal Book
Note on the Graphics

The Book Ghazal Challenge

Previous challenges focused on form, with a common radif or the Arabic ghazal form. This challenge focuses on a theme — books. Even in an electronic world of text flowing on screens, the book remains valuable for us. We have all been influenced for better or worse by books or by a book.

For this challenge, write a ghazal with the theme “book” or “books.” You may emphasize a specific book, books in general, a genre, a physical type of book. The ghazal you submit should explore the experience of books. For format, you have a number of options, explained below.

The Theme

Your focus should be a book, several books, or a genre. While you may mention authors (naturally!), please keep the focus on the books. Physical format of the book(s) may also be important: the direction in which your native language is written, for instance, or the type of binding, the type of paper and cover. You might consider eBooks as well.

The Format

You have a range of formats to choose from:

Please note that the Persian/Urdu ghazal differs from the Arabic in form, although definitions such as do not make this distinction.

The Rules

To be considered for the special issue presenting this challenge, your ghazal must follow the theme and format specifications.

If there are special concerns of format in your ghazals — spacing, style, etc — attach a document that shows the formatting you want. It can be in Word DOC, Open Office, WordPerfect, or PDF format.

About larrygates

Web developer of Ghazal Page. Sometime pseudonymous ghazalkar.