A fellow blogger asked me to post on their poetry site which specializes in the ghazal form and has a big following in India. Beside being intrigued by the thriving mainstream use of poetic form I was also inspired and spurred into action, attempting to write my own ghazal but I have to say, it’s not for beginners.
So how does poetic form help the writer to gain attention and connect with people so they want to read or listen to your message? Does the use of a particular structural poetic form such as ghazal, sestina, ballad or Octava Rima give the writer added reassurance or even inspiration that a framework for their thoughts already exists to display them more advantageously?
It should if we bear in mind that when we browse online or pick up a book we are looking for certain specifics. If the file or cover says ‘short stories’, we expect to read a collection of short stories; if we look for Sci-Fi or Horror we expect likewise – we understand, even feel comforted by the conventions of the genre and expect nothing less than to have them writ or spoken loud as we carry out our reading journey. Poetry and forms of poetry should be likewise but they’re not. At least in the UK they’re not.
Part of the issue here is that poetry in the UK for whatever historic reasons tends to be lumped in with literary types of writing which as we all know are genre-less (except they’re not) so poetry it seems never gets any further categorised than that. What if we had stores with bookcases filled with epics and ghazals and all sorts of other genre poetry? It seems more likely to happen in India than here but there is always hope.
Form exists to help our words to soar above the reader like a banner on a kite enticing them to read on, a magic carpet ride viewed from below but promising opportunity to jump on – what will they make of it? Form is there for us to experiment with and enjoy. Please do so – and wish me luck with my ghazal!