Monday, February 2, 2009

Ghazal Puzzle

Well, it’s officially the middle of winter today. Groundhog Day. I wouldn’t say today was a cold day, though, and it’s been a great way to go skating on the canal. I live around 300 meters from the world’s largest skating rink. That’s right, the Rideau Canal is the longest in the world, and it runs right through the place I call home.

Anyway, last week I went to a poetry workshop where I was introduced to a new form, called the ghazal, a rather reflexive form that tends to honor the predecessors that inspired the poet. As such, the references can get rather obscure, but I’m quite intrigued by the structure and the rhyming scheme. Ideally, the ghazal fits together like a puzzle, (pardon the silly rhyme), in that it is comprised of many couplets that revolve around the same theme, but could also work perfectly well as a poem on their own. Their combination however, (typically at least five couplets), should work towards giving a deeper meaning. This form, as with most poetic forms, is not necessarily meant to be understood, but rather, it is meant to immerse the reader into a mood, with something not quite tangible, the way music might affect someone.

The original ghazals were intrinsically linked to a kind of ambiguity between the love for a sexual partner, and the love of Allah, the idea is that it should be open to interpretation, and that any part could be interpreted to be the love of a lover, or the love of god. Obviously, as an atheist writing in this form some 1500 years later, in an entirely different language, one might argue that what I’m writing isn’t a ghazal, and that it’s an abomination of the form, and of Arabic and Persian culture. Guess what, Islam. This is my caring face. I already know what you think of me. So without further ado, I’m going to make my first attempt, hopefully later tonight, in the tradition of Groundhog Day.

1 comment:

Inkpot said...

I've never heard of the Ghazal before, thanks for educating me. It seems an interesting form. Happy Groundhog day! (did he come out of his lair?)