Monday, November 30, 2009

Jeff Crandall Commentary

Jugular Ghazal

Peter Pereira had given me a copy of Ravishing DisUnities: Real Ghazals in English which had languished unread on my shelf for many years. Bored one night, I plucked it down and opened it up, to my delight and surprise. The editor Agha Shahid Ali and I seem to have the same sensibilities. I quickly knew that I wanted to rise to the challenge of writing one. And a correct ghazal at that (pronounced, as he tells us, "ghuzzle, the gh sound . . . excavated near unnoticeably from deep in the throat").

I don’t remember how/when the sonic line "--ow I kill you" came to me, but it did, and it revisited me every night before I went to bed for a good week. So finally I sat down at the computer and pounded out "Jugular Ghazal."

It is absolutely not a "correct" ghazal, because it violates one of the main tenets of the form: each couplet must be "autonomous, thematically and emotionally complete in itself." My enslavement to narrative has betrayed me here. But the poem does follow the correct rhyme scheme with the qafia (--ow) and radif (“I kill you”), surpasses the minimum five couplets, and evokes an "atmosphere of sadness and grief" while reflecting the form’s "dedication to love and the beloved", admittedly here on a rather creepy level.

Losing Oz

"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T. S. Eliot was a stultifying mystery to me for years, until the day I was emotionally devastated by the betrayal of my “life partner” (his words, not mine). Then each line of that poem stung with a depth of pain that I fully understood, as if arrows of Eros were being yanked out of my flesh. This is my version of the same experience, without the brilliant help of Ezra Pound (dang it!).

Jeff Crandall is a poet and glass artist living in Seattle.

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