Friday, September 26, 2014


Sindhi Ghazal by Habib Sajid
Believe it or not, I was planning on writing about this word at some point. Admittedly, it has been on the back burner for awhile now, and so might not ever have happened. The occasion for my own interest was a conversation I had a few months back with local poet Len Anderson who publishes Hummingbird Press and helps head up the local poetry scene at Poetry Santa Cruz.

Anyway, it turned out that he has achieved some recognition working in the poetic form of the ghazal. I sort of understood what the form was from his description, but decided to go home and look it up, which I did, but that was about as far as I got with it.

Enter another local figure, Gary Patton, formerly a County Supervisor and now an environmental lawyer. His blog Two Worlds, which treats of the two worlds we simultaneously live in, that of nature and that which we human beings construct, can be found in the side panel here. So what should happen the other evening but that he turns out a blog post not only talking about the ghazal but containing a rather wonderful ghazal by Ken Weisner. Well, perhaps wonderful is the wrong word for a poem that with every other line returns us to Dick Cheney, but you get my drift.

I am going to give you a link to Patton's post HERE and to Ariadne's Web which has Len Anderson's description as well as a ghazal he wrote himself. If you can't be bothered to click on the links (why?) then I'll just say that the form of a ghazal is a series of couplets, the second line of which always ends with the same thing.  I.e., Dick Cheney. There's a bit more to it than that, but that's enough to be getting on with, I think.

In Arabic, the language the form originated in, ghazal  means "talking to women". According to a book called Masterpieces of Urdu Ghazal by K.C. Kanda, the ghazal's central concern is love even though it covers a wide range of human experience. You might say that Ken Weisner is stretching that range a tad when it comes to Cheney, but maybe that's just me. The other etymology Kanda finds for the word: "The painful wail of a wounded deer."

Hmm. I think I'd probably better just leave it at that.


  1. Indeed that is a wonderful ghazal and a highlight of a long day. Thank you.

  2. Glad to be of service.

    I suppose I should add somewhere that I don't read Arabic, so the one in my illustration might well say anything. I think it's probably more or less in the traditional mode, though.

  3. Seana

    If you get a chance to listen to the album Lost Songs of the Silk Road I think you'd really dig it.

  4. Great, Adrian. I will definitely check it out.

  5. Just wrote a book review mentioning ghazals as a Persian form today! Also "the talk of boys and girls.'

  6. Is that up where we can see it, Kathleen? And have you written any ghazals yourself, especially if we can read them on line?

  7. Hmm, one of the major Islamic philosophers was called al-Ghazali. I wonder if he or his pappy wrote poetry on the side.

  8. I've heard that name too, but I don't know what the connection was.

  9. Interesting guy, he was, known for shooting down Islamic philosophy's fascination with Western philosophy, an opponent of all the Islamic neo-Aristotelians we know and love so well.