I don't know why I put off writing this monthly column. Â I'd already chosen the form last month! Â This is a form in which I haven't been successful yet, but plan to change that by month's end. Â Well, that sounds a little conceited, doesn't it? Â
Manny, a fellow poet I know who emigrated from Iran about 17 years ago to Minneapolis, explained that this form of poetry is steeped in the oral tradition. Â Because the poem was built orally, without writing it down, repetition was used to help the authors remember it. Â Men would sit around in a circle each taking a turn by creating a stanza of the poem. Â Manny said this would go on for hours. Â
Because of the length--a traditional ghazal comprises five couplets and typically no more than fifteen--and repeats the same word at the end of each stanza, I think a good topic for a ghazal is one that bears exploring or elaboration. Â
I've heard Robert Bly on number of times. Â He's, like me, a Minnesotan after all. Â It was at the tribute to Bill Holm where he read asÂ The Brothers FrantzichÂ played their instruments that something happened to me. Â I suspect it was the irresistible combination of poetry and music, but Bly's reading of a ghazal, Stealing Sugar from the Castle, changed me, thrilled me, pulled me into the magical world of ghazals. Â
So let's take some time this month to look carefully at the links explaining the ghazal as well as reading some examples here provided then try it for ourselves. Â Something beautiful will happen and I can hardly wait for you to share it with me.
Edited to add that Dr. Ashok Saxena has written a bit of his history of the ghazal from Urdu poetry in India. Â Read his short essay here. Â