Archive for April 12th, 2013

Join Poetry Friday with Diane at Random Noodling

Join Poetry Friday with Diane at Random Noodling

G is for ghazal. I am no expert in poetry. I have a degree in elementary education and a masters for teaching gifted. I have only studied poetry on my own through workshops, reading, and internet research. My list of publications in poetry is short. But I do enjoy trying out new forms. One of the ways I try out writing new poems is by consulting with an expert.

My chosen expert for ghazal is J.K. McDowell. Jim published a book of poems that were all written in the ghazal form. I met Jim at a poetry reading last year and again at a wordlab a few months ago. We are now Facebook friends.

To write this ghazal, I read Jim’s book, Night, Mystery, & Light, published by Hiraeth Press. I used his style of 3 lines that together form a unit that could stand alone as a poem. I collected some of his lines and words. When I later researched on the internet, the definition confused me.

From Poets.org “The ghazal is composed of a minimum of five couplets—and typically no more than fifteen—that are structurally, thematically, and emotionally autonomous. Each line of the poem must be of the same length, though meter is not imposed in English. The first couplet introduces a scheme, made up of a rhyme followed by a refrain. Subsequent couplets pick up the same scheme in the second line only, repeating the refrain and rhyming the second line with both lines of the first stanza. The final couplet usually includes the poet’s signature, referring to the author in the first or third person, and frequently including the poet’s own name or a derivation of its meaning. – See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/5781#sthash.zcpOLhm5.dpuf”

Jim McDowell's book

Jim McDowell’s book

I asked Jim about the couplet and rhyming that I didn’t see in his style. This was his response: “The tradition form is two lines of 18. This can be rough in English, so Bly does three lines of 12. Six stanzas is also a Bly innovation, but common. Hafiz has some pretty long ones, he is the Master of the ghazal but not the Ladinsky translations, they are more free form. My limited understanding is to not rhyme but repeat a special word. Also the last stanza can refer to or address the poet. In a higher form the poem even begins and ends with the same word. I still think the most important is that each stanza be a stand alone poem, the leaping and multiple threads and flow the most powerful.”

Now both of these definitions sound rather scholarly and may be too much for you, and for that matter, for your students. But I gave it a good ole college try. I kept to the Bly tradition of 3 lines, six stanzas. Each stanza could stand alone, and each ends with the same word. I also refer to myself in the final stanza. Let me know what you think. I have to say I had fun with this exercise.

…writing bad poetry

A glass of white wine, maybe red, or some pale ale
smears my day’s end like a phantasm of words
echoed in sounds of prayerful poetry.

Charlie barks at a passing squirrel, pulls hard.
Loosen the leash, make release for his chase.
Mary Oliver, meanwhile, would write poetry.

I want to believe more deeply in pure joy,
sip coffee and look into your eyes for truth.
This delicate awareness becomes my poetry.

Mark time with a toast to events of the each day,
Symphony Day, Iris Blooming Day, Waltzing Day.
Give notice to the day that finds poetry.

I know this hunger that no food or drink subsides.
Will the sunset reveal a sepulcher of secrets?
Do these rambling scribblings mimic poetry?

Historians liken Margaret to a queen who waves
from high upon the royal steed. Did any
Margaret you know turn blue writing bad poetry?

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved


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