An essay by Shadab Zeest Hashmi (poetry, ’09)  appears in World Literature Today:


Ghazal Cosmopolitan

by Shadab Zeest Hashmi


Poetry is of course a universal art, but is it possible for a particular poetic form to be not only universally (or largely) adaptable but also act as a vessel for the mercurial shifts that define the cosmopolitan? As I delve into the history of the ghazal form, I find that it has effectively transcended and transferred the culture of its origins and made itself at home in vastly different cultures and times.

Two recent scenes come to mind as I think of the ghazal and the poetic cosmopolitan:

Latin Quarter, Paris: Marilyn Hacker weaving in and out of Arabic, French, and English at a Lebanese restaurant in the heart of medieval Paris, before she and I walked through the backstreets, through the doors of the somber Saint-Séverin Saint-Nicolas church where she lit a candle, to Berkeley Bookstore where she recited her ghazal dedicated to a Pakistani and an Afghan woman. [. . . continue reading here.]

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