The Ghazal, or: Form verses creativity

Sangeetha & David’s new poetry project

Once upon a time, two poets who’d never met in person spontaneously began writing verses back and forth to one another over the Internet. Their first poetry project took them some nine months: a 100 verse Hyakuin.

Once they’d completed their oeuvre, the two decided to continue their creative journey together; and Sangeetha came up with a fun new idea, which David loved – to explore different poetic forms together, working through the Alphabet from ‘A’ to ‘Z’.

Every week, for twenty-six weeks beginning in January of the year 2022, they would take turns selecting poetic forms beginning with the letter corresponding to that particular week (1=A, 2=B, etc., etc.) and write poems to one another using that form.

David suggested they call their new project ‘Form verses creativity’, and so it began.


This week: Special circumstances

This week, it was Sangeetha’s turn to pick a form of poetry, and she selected the ghazal. However, instead of writing a ghazal for David to respond to, she decided to write one in response to a ghazal that David had once written in memory of his father… because this is the month that she lost her own father long ago:


G for Ghazal

David’s ghazal

I remember his toolboxes, table vice, hand sander
Still remember foul humor, impatience, frank candor

I remember clever math tricks and right-wing politics
And sultry actresses at whom he would gander

I remember him sitting, reading, problem solving
Frustrated, resigned, when his mind would meander

I remember long summers he nannied my daughter
Love all-consuming, warmed bottles he'd hand her

I remember brilliance; I remember his strength, God
Deep in principles anchored; and not one to pander

I remember no bullshit and deep disappointments
Because and regardless no one ever stood grander

I remember young David who worshipped his Papa
None could ever replace him, not one ben Alexander

Sangeetha’s ghazal

I remember your childlike sense of wonder
watching, creating, taking me inside worlds of wonder

I touch the laburnum tree you and I planted
when I was your five-year-old assistant gardener

I imagine the scent of your aftershave
on the shirt in your closet, still on a hanger

I hear stories of your kindness and genius
From people I presumed were complete strangers

I climb the rope ladder to the treehouse you built
With pride and glee for my little son and daughter
 
I will never know what to say to my mother
When she smiles and shows me the last rose you gave her 

I have Mindfills of memories and a heartfull of hope
So full of gratitude that I was loved by you, my father

Ghazal?

  • Made up of a chain of couplets, where each couplet is an independent poem;
  • It should be natural to put a comma at the end of the first line;
  • The Ghazal has a refrain of one to three words that repeat, and an inline rhyme that precedes the refrain;
    • Lines 1 and 2, then every second line, have this refrain and inline rhyme;
  • The last couplet should refer to the author’s pen-name;
  • The rhyming scheme is AA bA cA dA eA etc.


Let’s write poetry together!

When it comes to partnership, some humans can make their lives alone – it’s possible. But creatively, it’s more like painting: you can’t just use the same colours in every painting. It’s just not an option. You can’t take the same photograph every time and live with art forms with no differences.

Ben Harper (b. 1969)

Would you like to create poetry with me and have a completed poem of yours featured here at the Skeptic’s Kaddish? I am very excited to have launched the ‘Poetry Partners’ initiative and am looking forward to meeting and creating with you… Check it out!

32 thoughts on “The Ghazal, or: Form verses creativity”

  1. These reminded me very much of a ghazal I wrote for a friend who had recently died–I tried to find the post, but could not. But I think the form is particularly well suited to the subject. Excellent, both.

  2. The ghazal is a form that lend itself well to this kind of remembrance – these are like small bites of happiness wrapped in a little longing and sadness.

      1. I too remember your ode to your dad David.

        Both poets took us through a wondrous childhood, how lovely the ink of love flowed through your pens. Also the unique feelings of a boy and a girl, of a man and a woman for the love and remembrance of two great fathers are distinctly felt in this poetic tango.

  3. The ghazals – both of them definitely come from the heart and are moving to read. But I sometimes wonder why you impose these structures and disciplines on yourself: the alphabet, the days the numbers, the different types of verse? Are you searching for the best way to express yourself? โ€œI have said that poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings; it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity.โ€ (Wordsworth) I notice you missed out epic poetry for E!

  4. These are both magnificent odes to fathers. I remember yours from an earlier post, David, if I’m not mistaken. These are touching tributes, and I wish all of us had fathers worthy of such love and admiration. Well done, both of you. ๐Ÿ™‚

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