Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Now that it’s hot outside, let’s heat up the ClevelandPoetics Blog with another collaboration.
I’ve decided to try a ghazal for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I don’t need to know how to pronounce the word to write one on this blog. Seems no matter how I say ghazal, someone corrects me.
Thanks to Josh Gage for suggesting the ghazal form for a collaboration. Because each couplet is autonomous, it’s an ideal form for multiple poets.
But everywhere I look, I see different rules for ghazals. Like so many poetic forms that originated in languages other than English, I think the variations probably have to do with adaptation of the form to another language. So, if the rules I’m about to set for our collaboration don’t match the rules as you know them, tough.
For our purposes, we’ll be writing couplets. Each contributor will write an entire couplet. You may contribute more than one couplet to the poem, but not two consecutively. As I said, each couplet is autonomous. Not only should it not work off the previous couplet, but the order of couplets should be interchangeable and irrelevant – other than the first and last.
The first couplet, which I will provide to get us started, will set both a rhyme (qafia) and a refrain (radif). Both lines in the first couplet will contain the rhyme and the refrain. In subsequent couplets, only the second line must contain the rhyme and refrain. Personally, I like it when the first line also contains the rhyme, but I won’t insist.
In English, some poets insist that all lines have the same meter. Some just syllable count. To make this collaboration more accessible to more poets, let’s syllable count. 10 syllables per line.
Traditional ghazals deal with love, and in particular unrequited, illicit, unobtainable love and longing, either for another person or for a higher being. But let’s not limit ourselves. I’m more interested in hearing the full range of voices and subject that the form might inspire. As far as I’m concerned, any subject or theme is welcome.
We’ll need at least 5 couplets to be a ghazal. There’s no upper limit, so we can keep going until we’re sick of it.
The final couplet, known as the signature couplet or makhta, should contain the name of or somehow identify the poets who wrote the ghazal. We can figure that out together if and when we get there.
As an example, here are the first two couplets from the poem “Ghazal,” by Agha Shahid Ali:
I'll do what I must if I'm bold in real time.
A refugee, I'll be paroled in real time.
Cool evidence clawed off like shirts of hell-fire?
A former existence untold in real time ...
I’ll start the poem in the comments with the first couplet. The rhyme words are weigh and ray, and the rhyme comes at syllable 8. The refrain is the word light. Remember, after the first stanza, the rhyme and refrain only need to be in the second line of the couplet.
Please copy the previous stanzas into your comment whenever you add a new couplet.
Ready, set, go!
Oddly, the comments I post aren't showing up, not even the one posted about 7 hours ago, so I'll copy the first couplet here while I wait for the comment problem to resolve:
I step upon a scale to weight the light
that shines upon my skin. Each ray is light.
The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau