The ghazal is a Persian/Urdu form made of couplets that generally have end rhyme and repeat the last word at the close of the couplet. Many poets encountered the form through Persian poets Rumi and Hafiz. American poet Aga Shahid Ali brought the Urdu form to contemporary American poetry at the turn of the 21st Century. Here’s one from the November issue of Poetry Magazine.
After Rachel Eliza Griffiths’s “Self Stones Country” photographs
Canadian poets Phyllis Webb and John Thompson explored the form, and wrote to and against it. Webb’s ghazals and anti-ghazals as she calls them, are tender, intimate poems that can accommodate the minor and major notes of daily observational poems. Thompson’s took on brutal, angry dimensions. Rob Winger has written on the particular relationship of Canadian poets to the ghazal form. You can read it here with particular attention to John Thompson.
Here’s one of my own ghazals, from my book Teeth Marks. You can also find in the Canadian textbook In Fine Form by Kate Braid & Sandy Shreve. Here are a few ghazals.
he’s as high as a georgia pine, my father’d say, half laughing. southern trees
Tonight the Sky is my Begging Bowl
While I savor woodstove-scented sleep,
you move in a forest of brick and glass: sleepless.
Your eyes droop, dreaming the half-point of grades
and coffee at the end of the picket line. Sleepy.
I dress in flannel, stalk blackberries for birds,
canes flattened from a winter storm as we slept.
I embrace everything, even the slither of midnight,
but without you, time is too wide, I can not sleep.
Clatter of dragon paw—the old year retreats, tail between
her legs. This thumping new one will not sleep.
We are simply, where we are. Me, alone
in flannel, you on a subway depraved of sleep.
Tonight the sky is my begging bowl: wing tip,
wood thrush I open palms, heart, enclave of sleep.