Gleeful Ghazals Workshop


A ghazal (“guzzle”) is a lyric poem in a pattern of exact rhyme couplets. It originated in 7th century Arabic culture. Traditionally it was a love or religious poem, often set to music. It proliferated in India and the Middle East through such Sufi mystics as Rumi and Hafiz and, later, the Urdu poet Ghalib. These poets’ ghazals have been widely translated. Since their times, original ghazals have been written in many languages. In the west, Goethe and Lorca were early champions of the form. More recently, the American poets. Maxine Kumin, W. S. Merwin, Adrienne Rich, Tracy K. Smith, Larry Levis, and Marilyn Hacker are among those who have written ghazals. The form has an inherit lightness and charm that is apt for love and nature poetry, and yet it has been employed to address metaphysical questions and such somber subjects as species devastation and political corruption. It requires a nimbleness of mind to variously circle around the same subject and rhyme. In this workshop we will identify techniques of ghazal writing by examining several different ghazals of diverse voices. We will then have fun practicing writing our own ghazals.