In his introduction, Thompson writes, “The ghazal proceeds by couplets which (and here, perhaps, is the great interest in the form for Western writers) have no necessary logical, progressive, narrative, thematic (or whatever) connection.” Emphasis mine. I read on: “The ghazal is immediately distinguishable from the classical, architectural, rhetorically and logically shaped English sonnet.” Classical, architectural, rhetorically and logically shaped: this was the poetic world in which I felt comfortable. I like sonnets.
I remembered my professor’s description of the ghazal: the links between the couplets should be “intuitive,” she said, suggested not by story or argument but by “nuance and tone.”
What did this mean?
I thought about the pickup line once administered to me by a young man in the campus pub: “I know you’re a great poet,” he said, “but [but?] would you like to come and smoke a joint in the graveyard with me?”
The logical leap fulcrumed on that conjunction seemed to me to be exactly the sort of thing the ghazal form demanded.
I did not go to smoke a joint in the graveyard. I did not take to the ghazal form.
- Amanda Jernigan, on learning to love John Thompson, in her essay "Under the Influence" over at Partisan. You can read the whole thing here.