9:04 a.m. — Walnut Creek
Hello everyone. All of you who ran screaming at the sight of ghazal get back in here. We can do this. I know, because I finally wrote an almost ghazal which all of you can do, and I am in the process of turning it into a full ghazal. I also know that a couple of you have written ghazals, so any help you can give us in comments will be appreciated by all.
The ghazal is a Persian poetic form. The original form was very simple: five to fifteen couplets using the same word [in blue] at the end of both lines of the first couplet, and an internal rhyme [in red],
Gotta love us brown girls, munching on fat, swinging blue hips,
decked out in shells and splashes, Lawdie, bringing them woo hips.
and that word at the end of the second line of each subsequent couplet [in blue], as well as an internal rhyme [in red] that precedes the main word. [Patricia Smith, who wrote “Hip Hop Ghazal,” managed two internal rhymes. Spot the second one.]
As the jukebox teases, watch my sistas throat the heartbreak,
inhaling bassline, cracking backbone and singing thru hips.
with the poet’s name in the final couplet [in green].
Crying ’bout getting old—Patricia, you need to get up off
what God gave you. Say a prayer and start slinging. Cue hips.
The main themes were usually love or drinking wine.
Contemporary ghazals often leave out the poet’s name in the final couplet and the themes can be anything, as the poem just needs the couplets, which are complete thoughts on their own, but also all work together to explore a common theme.
Can you see why I not only ran from ghazals for a long time but dreaded trying to explain them?! But I promise that if you work in two steps it is not only doable, but, like any challenging form, fun. The way I finally managed it was to find the focus I wanted, which is the light when a star explodes. Light is my end word and that is all I worried about, a number of couplets with light as their focus. I did not worry about the internal rhyme. Now, I am working on an internal rhyme scheme and I have light at the end of both lines of the first couplet.
I will give you a couple of links, on the theory that the more you read and see the easier for your brain to wrap itself around the concepts. The first focuses mainly on the history and is from Poets.org. The next is from Robert Lee Brewer and includes his attempt. You can see how creative you can be to accomplish the internal rhyme. The final is the complete text of Patricia Smith’s ghazal. Note how she controls the reading with her punctuation choices.
I will see you Thursday for, even now, an unknown topic; Friday for our usual roundup; and, Tuesday for an open prompt. If you have questions, do ask; if you know anyone who would enjoy this, please click on various buttons below.
Alright, go to it. I want to see ghazals or ghazal attempts! Happy writing.