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Sunday 14 August 2011

Riot : a ghazal

We all had a ball on that day of all days,
such feelings of power, that day of all days!

Best day of my life, was that day of all days -
so magic each hour, that day of all days.

I'd just gone to eye-ball their day of all days,
see the pigs cower, that day of all days.

But adrenalin ran on my day of all days
and nuffink was dour, that day of all days.

We robbed people blind on that day of all days,
were out on the scour, that day of all days.

The town was on fire for our day of all days,
but then it turned sour, the day of all days.

Some scum neighbours shopped us that day of all days,
turned our flames into flowers, killed our day of all days.

This challenging prompt was set by dVerse ~ Poets' Pub. Do visit them for info about the ghazal - and for much else.

I am aware that I've cheated a bit with the last line, but would appreciate any comments about a form that I have always found very difficult. This is the first attempt to get anywhere near completion.

Two days ago our local radio asked for listeners' suggestions for a three word phrase to sum up the events of last week.

Their contribution: "fear for future"

I think mine would be: "Knee-jerk reactions"

Neither do I find very satisfactory: any others?


vivinfrance said...

David, your ghazal packs a punch, written from the point of view of a rioter. I wouldn't worry about your last line - it is always acceptable to adapt the form to make a better poem! It would have been impossible to follow the prescribed associative form, yet deal satisfactorily with this painful subject.

Thank you for your visit and comment on my poem on a related theme.

Dick said...

A tricky theme but well accommodated within the form. This really works, poetically and topically.

Mishilicious Mishi said...

wow for the theme Dave..and I liked your three word phrase..knee-jerk reactions that those all things were..nice job:-)

The Weaver of Grass said...

I think it works well Dave and I like the repeated phrase.

Claudia said...

a fine ghazal - can't give you a really in depth crit but to me it looks like you done very well with the form..

jabblog said...

I can hear this being sung or chanted. Deceptively simple, but difficult to write, I think.
My three words would be 'Rights over responsibilities' but that's not very punchy;-)

Scarlet said...

I like the ghazal poem specially the refraining lines.. day of all days. But I didn't see your signature name on the last verse though (did I missed it?)

You put different perspective on that day... the rioter and the victim, and the city too.

Mary said...

You did well with the form, came up with a 'meaty' poem that packed a punch. (I was feeling a bit too lazy to try a ghazal!)

Carl said...

Strong poem on the riot. I like this form. s for the 3 word sum up. Thats tough to do Riots in Streets I guess I would do, but not happy with it at all either.

California Ink in Motion said...

Found you through Viv's blog and glad I did. I liked your ghazal. I watched the news from over the pond and was struck how it was similiar to our Watts riots. My 3 words would be: Things Must Change.

Victoria said...

I really liked the fact that you addressed the whole issue from the point of view of the rioters. As for the form, the poem worked for me and I'm just not anal about analysing details! I like your 3 words.

John (@bookdreamer) said...

Hi, sorry that you missed the deadline but I noticed you would have liked feedback from the dVerse session I hosted so here goes. I start from four key factors drawing on classical rules but also looking at modern developments. I draw on Agha Shahid Ali’s, chapter from An Exaltation of forms (Ed Finch and Varnes). This is a poem of his based on the traditional rules. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/172051 I also refer to "Ghazal kya hai " by Dr.Arshad
Jamaal, a essay on history of the form, which includes clear classical definitions of each step. I’m only commenting on the use of the form so other then a gentle nod to content I keep away from a detailed critique of its quality. Now back to your poem.

1) Association
One of the key factors of the form – traditional or modern is that the couplets are variations on a theme. For each couplet is a "Sher" - a poem of two lines that stands alone so a ghazal is a collection of completely different two line poems created in response to the theme. And so can be read in any order and will have any style of tone. The key is that these are associational, not a linear narrative as yours is here. So your ghazal, could have been a series of two line poems from the perspectives of different rioters, store owners, policemen, passerby’s etc from different days, places, times and reflecting different tones, moods, descriptions etc

2) Theme
The first couplet usually sets out the theme of the poem, and whilst the classical form tended towards yearning for the unobtainable, this is now far more open ended, But given the nature of the free ranging couplets a clear theme is needed to drive the choices and to enable a sense of unity. As your poem explores the experience of a rioter(s), it’s difficult to see what your theme is. The title is a description rather than say, a question to be answered. I get a sense of “riots are the voice of the unheard." by Martin Luther King, Jr., which would be a powerful focus in creating couplets reflecting those voices.

3) Couplets,
These can range from five to as many as are needed. Traditionally these tend not be with enjambment as its two lines, not one line "bent. But this is more flexible in modern forms but still seems to be restricted to the odd one that ensures a range of different styles. Also classically you need a opening and closing couplet - the first setting out the internal rhyme and refrain, the last being a signature couplet that brings some aspect of the author. This is dropped in most modern poems as you do here.

4) Rhyme, refrain and metre
Once set in the first couplet the refrain and internal rhyme would be on the second line, which you do well, They don't now have to be true rhymes so you can vary - some use words that have the same meaning rather than rhymes, or similar word structures such as tin-box, shoe-horn etc, So the modern ghazal allows for far more flexibility. In Arabic, there are 16 metre forms, and in Hindi 19 and a ghazal is only one if all the "sher" have the same metre. In English this usually means being in iambic pentameter or having a beat count of 12 per line. But this can vary as even the classical forms for. I think you have gone for a beat could of 11 per line.

In short, your ghazal has some traditional features with modern tweaks but lacks the associational, dervish whirl of the form.

Windsmoke. said...

Flowed along nicely and got you're point across :-).

kaykuala said...

Hi Dave,
A great Ghazal! I find it a brilliant move. Being new to Ghazal myself, I thought yours fits the bill. We're lucky John's lengthy explanation can clear off the finer points on technicalities.

Hilary said...

I'm not familiar with "Ghazal" but it is a fine poem. Thanks for your visit to my blog.

Art Durkee said...

I like the attempt, but I think it's actually a little TOO recursive and repetitive. I might suggest opening it up as it goes along. The ghazal form is flexible and adaptable, and accepts experiment very readily. Don't be too much a slave to what you've been taught the form to be. You'll find lots of traditional examples that vary the form in interesting ways.

Jenny Woolf said...

Inclined to agree with you. "Fear for future" sounds too negative. "Hope for political harmony" sounds clumsy but I really do hope that all this doesn't degenerate into the usual name calling and self justification.

Dave King said...

Hi and many thanks for all your visits and comments. My ISP's server has been down long term today. I shall try to get round toeveryone, but may not make it. Apologies, if I don't.

Wow, that's a good and very valuable response. I am very grateful for it.

Much appreciate the comment, Dick. Thanks a lot.

Thanks for that.

The Weaver of Grass
Interesting response. I tried (after posting) to limit the repetition to the second line of each couplet and thought it worked better. But I guess such things are very personal.

That'll do for me - thanks!

I agre with your first two sentences and like the suggestion. Maybe if politicians tried a bit more for depth rather than punchiness, we'd be doing better!

No, I understand the signature is optional and decided against it. Thanks for a useful comment.

Thanks for that. I did get to deciding that I couldn't man age a ghazal and wrote a less exotic version, then decided over breakfast I could, wrote it out over toast and then posted it - which hopefully, explains some of its shortcomings!

Yours has a lot to recommend it, I reckon. Thanks for the compliment.

California ink in Motion
I, too, am glad you found me. Interesting comparison you make. Things must change: guess I can go along with that!

That's just great, thank you for the comment.

John (@bookdreamer)
yes, sorry about the deadline. Will try not to repeat that.
Hearty thanks for such a comprehensive critique. Just what the doctor ordered!
I think possibly the most valuable part of your response is going to be the first, the association. I had completely missed this point. The reference to MLK clarifies it beautifully.

I also take the point you make on couplets and enjambment.

The use of the alternatives to rhyme that you enumerate is fascinating.

All in all, thank you for such a valuable response - as well as for the prompt in the first place.

Much thanks for that.

I agree, a brilliant exposition - which, through my own fault, I was too rushed to fully take up.

Glad you liked it. Thanks for saying so.

Art Durkee
That's another very useful response. Much thanks for it. I do fully agree with the thought that it was too repetative. It worked much better when I (later) made it less so. (See my reply to The Weaver of Grass). I obviously was being too slavish.

I'm sure we can all agree with that sentiment, b ut I fear it's already started! Thanks Jenny.