Ghazala's Weblog

a poetic thread to string my words and experiences on…

Shakespeare’s sister… — August 2, 2009

Shakespeare’s sister…

A big house

with a study and lawn

A little money

to call my own

Would then my poems be more profound?

and new ideas

my essays expound?

Sylvia Plath…?

crazed by her craft?

Virginia Woolf with stones in her pockets

To remain grounded

and let my dreams defer?

With tradition shall my poems concur?

Write haikus

and of love borrowed

Or like Hughes, let it exlode?

A meta-poem by Langston Hughes — August 20, 2008

A meta-poem by Langston Hughes


The instructor said,

            Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you—
Then, it will be true.

I wonder if it’s that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
I went to school there, then Durham, then here
to this college on the hill above Harlem.
I am the only colored student in my class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,
Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:

It’s not easy to know what is true for you or me
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I’m what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you:
hear you, hear me—we two—you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York too.) Me—who?
Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records—Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn’t make me NOT like
the same things other folks like who are other races.
So will my page be colored that I write?
Being me, it will not be white.
But it will be
a part of you, instructor.
You are white—
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
That’s American.
Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that’s true!
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me—
although you’re older—and white—
and somewhat more free.

This is my page for English B.


More Poems About Poetry — July 24, 2008

More Poems About Poetry

Some more meta-poems… the first is by one of my favourites- Alice Walker. She speaks in this poem of her conversation with muse, during which she describes the creation of poetry as a painful, near death experience before poetry arrives in the garb of “wierd light”. She recounts ways in which poetry talks to poets. Once the muse arrives it nags and nags till the poem is done.

The second meta poem of this post is a short and sweet feminist poem by a poet called Tess Gallagher. This is the first time I have read anything by her but the poem really touched my heart. It reminded me of things I learnt from my mother without actually ever being taught and the eerie similarity between her and me even though she died when I was just an adolescent. The poem also spoke to me because so many times I promise myself to get back to the poem while I immerse myself in this or that mindless chore and a little girl stands next to me too watching me do it all.

And the final one by a master- Dylan Thomas. This poem is sort of a pure meta poem but beautiful nevertheless.

I Said to Poetry

I said to Poetry: “I’m finished
with you.”
Having to almost die
before some wierd light
comes creeping through
is no fun.
“No thank you, Creation,
no muse need apply.
I’m out for good times–
at the very least,
some painless convention.”

Poetry laid back
and played dead
until this morning.
I wasn’t sad or anything,
only restless.

Poetry said: “You remember
the desert, and how glad you were
that you have an eye
to see it with? You remember
that, if ever so slightly?”
I said: “I didn’t hear that.
Besides, it’s
five o’clock in the a.m.
I’m not getting up
in the dark
to talk to you.”

Poetry said: “But think about the time
you saw the moon
over that small canyon
that you liked so much better
than the grand one–and how surprised you were
that the moonlight was green
and you still had
one good eye
to see it with

Think of that!”

“I’ll join the church!” I said,
huffily, turning my face to the wall.
“I’ll learn how to pray again!”

“Let me ask you,” said Poetry.
“When you pray, what do you think
you’ll see?”

Poetry had me.

“There’s no paper
in this room,” I said.
“And that new pen I bought
makes a funny noise.”

“Bullshit,” said Poetry.
“Bullshit,” said I.

By Alice Walker


Stop Writing the Poem

to fold the clothes. No matter who lives
or who dies, I’m still a woman.
I’ll always have plenty to do.
I bring the arms of his shirt
together. Nothing can stop
our tenderness. I’ll get back
to the poem. I’ll get back to being
a woman. But for now
there’s a shirt, a giant shirt
in my hands, and somewhere a small girl
standing next to her mother
watching to see how it’s done.
by Tess Gallagher



Notes on the Art of Poetry

I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on
in the world between the covers of books,
such sandstorms and ice blasts of words,
such staggering peace, such enormous laughter,
such and so many blinding bright lights,
splashing all over the pages
in a million bits and pieces
all of which were words, words, words,
and each of which were alive forever
in its own delight and glory and oddity and light.

by Dylan Thomas





Poets About Poetry — June 16, 2008

Poets About Poetry


The poetry I like best is the kind that happens when theres a synthesis of smells and tastes of life (or lives) with a realistic, close look at life (or lives, again!) topped with beautiful crafting of words. Empty craft sounds just that- empty. I also like to understand the process behind creation- creation of art, learning… Its interesting when poets write about poetry- their own or other poets’. In this act they also create what we may call “meta-poetry’. Such poems give us an opportunity for a deeper look into the poet him/herself. They serve many other purposes too. For example through these, poets may claim lineage with poets of another time. Like Ibn-e-Insha who prays for a house in heaven for Mir- every word uttered by whom, Insha claims is his own!

Allah karey Mir ka jannat mein makan ho,
Marhoom ne har baat hamari hi bayan ki.

Muktibodh discredits a lot of poetry and tells us about his version of credible thought process in his poem “vichar aatey hein” (“Thoughts arrive”- which incidentally is one of his very few short poems)

vichar aatey hein-
likhte samay nahin
Bojha dhotey waqt peeth par
sir par utthatey samay bhaar
parishram kartey samay
chaand ugta hai va
paani mein jhalmalaney lagta hai
hriday ke paani mein.

vichar aatey hein
likhte samay nahin,
…patthar dhotey waqt
peeth par utthate waqt bojh
saanp martey samay pichhwarey
bachchey ki nekar phacheette waqt!!
patthar pahad ban jate hein
naqshe bante hein bhogolik
peeth kachhap ban jate hein
samay prithvi ban jata hai…

(My translation of “vichar aatey hein“)

thoughts arrive
not while writing
while carrying load on back
while hauling weight over head
while toiling
moon rises and
shimmers on water
water of the heart

thoughts arrive
not while writing
…while carrying stone
while hauling load over back
while killing snake in the backyard
while washing a child’s knickers
stones become mountains
maps turn physical
backs turn into turtles
time becomes the earth…

Nazim Hikmet calls his poetry his “pot of honey” in his poem About My Poetry. Using the honey metaphor for his poetry that is at once not like material riches but still priceless.

I have no silver saddled horse to ride,
no inheritence to live on,
neither riches no real estate…
a pot of honey is all i own.
A pot of honey
red as fire!

My honey is my everything.
I guard my riches and my real estate
… my honey pot, I mean…
from pests of every species,
Brother, just wait…
As long as I’ve got
honey in my pot,
bees will come to it
from Timbuktu…

(Translated by Mutlu Konuk and Randy Blasing)
Ernest Hemingway, in his poem The Age Demand talks of relationship of time-age with poetry and poets

The age demanded that we sing
And cut away our tongue.

The age demanded that we flow
And hammered in the bung.

The age demanded that we dance
And jammed us into iron pants.

And in the end the age was handed
The sort of shit that it demanded.
Pablo Neruda in his poem simply titled Poetry talks of the illusive-to-define source and nature of poetry.

And it was at that age… Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don’t know how or when,
no they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
and open,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
riddled with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.

And my favourite Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s Lauh-o-Qalam contains his need to express himself no matter what.

hum parvarish-e-lauh-o-qalam karte rahain ge
jo dil pe guzarati hai raqam karte rahain ge
asbaab-e-gham-e-ishq baham karte rahain ge
virani-e-dauraan pe karam karte rahain ge
haan talkhi-e-ayaam abhi aur barhe gi
haan ehal-e-sitam mashq-e-sitam karte rahain ge
manzoor ye talkhi ye sitam hum ko gavara
dam hai to madavaa-e-alam karte raheain ge
maikhana salamat hai to hum surkhi-e-mai se
tazeen-e-dar-o-baam-e-haram karte rahain ge
baaqi hai lahu dil main tou har ashk se paida
rang-e-lab-o-rukhsaar-e-sanam karte rahain ge
ek tarz-e-tagaaful hai so vo un ko mubaarak
ek arz-e-tamana hai so hum karte rahain ge


Forever will I nurture pen and paper,
forever express in words whatever my heart undergoes,
forever proffer ingredients of the sorrows of love
and quicken into life the wasteland of time.
Yes, the bitterness of time will keep on spawning,
just as the tyrants will persist in their cruelty.
Cheerfully I’ll give in to bitterness, this tyranny too I’ll endure
so long as there’s breath, I’ll seek ever new cures for torments.
If the tavern still remains, I shall embellish every door
and balcony of the haram with the redness of wine.
If the heart is not drained of all the blood, I’ll colour every tear
with the redness of the beloved’s lips and cheeks
This posture of indifference, let it be her prerogative-
For me it will always be my desire’s entreaty.

(translated by Shiv K. Kumar)