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Ravishing DisUnities
Real Ghazals in English
Agha Shahid Ali, ed.; Sarah Suleri Goodyear, afterword

Wesleyan Poetry Series

2000 • 208 pp. 6 x 9"

$17.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6437-5

Trans. from the Arabic

“A] wonderfully stimulating collection of recent ghazals by 107 poets . . . [the form produces] an ‘epigrammatic terseness’ that does not belie the great depth of longing or, in the hands of... [continued in Reviews below]”—Booklist

A star-studded anthology infuses English poetry with the rigor and wit of a foreign form.

In recent years, the ghazal (pronounced "ghuzzle"), a traditional Arabic form of poetry, has become popular among contemporary English language poets. But like the haiku before it, the ghazal has been widely misunderstood and thus most English ghazals have been far from the mark in both letter and spirit. This anthology brings together ghazals by a rich gathering of 107 poets including Diane Ackerman, John Hollander, W. S. Merwin, William Matthews, Paul Muldoon, Ellen Bryant Voigt, and many others. As this dazzling collection shows, the intricate and self-reflexive ghazal brings the writer a unique set of challenges and opportunities. Agha Shahid Ali's lively introduction gives a brief history of the ghazal and instructions on how to compose one in English. An elegant afterword by Sarah Suleri Goodyear elucidates the larger issues of cultural translation and authenticity inherent in writing in a "borrowed" form.

Reviews / Endorsements

“[A] wonderfully stimulating collection of recent ghazals by 107 poets . . . [the form produces] an ‘epigrammatic terseness’ that does not belie the great depth of longing or, in the hands of modern poets, nimble wit and tempered joy. The ghazal truly is an enchanting form, and each poet, including Diane Ackerman, W. S. Merwin, William Matthews, John Hollander, and Jacqueline Osherow, fills it with sharply etched feelings and images.”—Booklist

“a gift to American poetry”—The Washington Post

“This anthology introduces a genuinely original note into the American publishing scene—ludic, accomplished, intriguing. It could well launch a new fad. No one could be a better guide to the ghazal in English than Ali, a poet from Kashmir who writes with equal facility in Urdu and English.”—Edmund White

“Reading this anthology straight through is a fascinating experience —what a range of voice and subjects the editor has coaxed into creating ‘cultural transitions.’ It is indeed a testament to the openness of American writers to the new and (seemingly) exotic. It is also a marvelous gift to the literary world, and it is safe to say that nothing will ever be quite the same in our poetry.”—Christopher Merrill

From the Book:

"<"On the Table

I was taught to smooth the aura at the end
said my masseuse, hands hovering at the end.

Inches above my placid pummeled self
did I feel something floating at the end?

Is my naked body merely prone
to extoplasmic vapors to no end?

Many another arthritic has lain here
seeking to roll pain's ball end over end.

Herbal oils, a CD playing soft
loon calls, wave raps, bird trills now must end.

I rise and dress, restored to lift and bend,
my ethereal wisp invisible at the end.

-- Maxine Kumin

AGHA SHAHID ALI is on the poetry faculty of the University of Utah and Warren Wilson College. His seven collections of poetry include The Country Without a Post Office (1997), A Nostalgist's Map of America (1992), and The Half-Inch Himalayas (Wesleyan, 1987). He is also the translator of The Rebel's Silhouette: Selected Poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1995).

Thu, 6 Sep 2018 11:02:46 -0500