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Background of the challenges

The Ghazal Challenges

The India Issue Challenge

Guest Editor: Roomy Naqvy

The Ghazal Page is pleased to announce that submissions are now open for the India Issue Challenge, which will feature ghazals written in English by poets from India.

This issue will be edited by Roomy Naqvy. Roomy works as an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi, India. He is an 1996 recipient of the Katha Translation Award, given for his translations from Gujarati into English. Roomy also writes poetry, including ghazals in English.

Submission Guidelines:

We look forward to reading your ghazals!

The Speculative Ghazal Challenge (Completed)

Guest Editor: Joshua Gage

This challenge will be edited by our second guest editor, Joshua Gage. Please send submissions to The Ghazal Page; they will be forwarded to Josh.Submissions are due by 4 October. The planned publication date for the issue is 2 December.If you wish to review The Ghazal Page's submission policy, you may find it here.

Here is Josh's description of the theme for this challenge:

Speculative literature is a broad, catch all term that encompasses many genres, primarily science fiction, fantasy, mythopoeic, and horror, as well as the many related, hybrid and derivative genres based on those three. This challenge seeks speculative ghazals — ghazals that stem from science fiction, fantasy and horror (or shers from all three!)

You will find several ghazals that provide a wide range speculative themes here.

The editor prefers ghazals that retain the more formal elements (qafia, radif, etc.) and tends to eschew free-verse ghazals.

The Water Ghazal Challenge (Completed)

Guest Editor: Mary Cresswell

An exciting feature of this challenge is its guest editor: Mary Cresswell, of Wellington, New Zealand. Please send your submissions to The Ghazal Page. They will be forwarded to Mary.

The submission period begins on 15 April and ends on 31 May 2013. Submissions should be sent to The Ghazal Page; they will be forwarded to Mary Cresswell. Her ghazals have appeared in The Ghazal Page for several years. Her most recent is “Chant for the Return Home.”

Here is her call for submissions:

Look for inspiration from water, wherever it is, whatever it’s doing and who/what it’s doing it to — storms, glaciers, ships and steam engines, boiling into an undersea trench, springing from desert rock, falling as snow. Big surf. Tears. Dark streaks down the sides of subway tunnels. If water could speak we might know why it’s always moving … Perhaps use water-words as a radif — perhaps tercet (rather than couplet) ghazals — consider Arabic as well as Persian forms. Ghazals can be unpublished or published (give details of previous publication as well as permission for use).

To prime your skill with the ghazal form, check through the excellent collection of essays and articles on the The Ghazal Page website. Also see Carol Rumens’ Guardian article introducing ghazals by Mimi Khalvati. To see how the form can vary, read Natasha Trethewey’s ‘Miscegenation’ and Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Mother Mourns’.

Please submit between 15 April and 31 May 2013, and follow the journal submission instructions. Subject line: “Water issue”

The Ekphrastic Challenge (Completed)

Ekphrasis is the representation of one work of art through another work of art in a different medium. The challenge here is to use a ghazal to represent a non-literary work of art, like a painting, sculpture, installation, artifact, or specific piece of music. Many poets have written ekphrastic poems. Here are two examples by David Jalajel, including commentary and a links to another explanation with several examples.

There are two possible approaches. The first is to use words to describe a work of art. The second is to try to emulate various aspects of the particular work through the linguistic and structural aspects of the poem. Of course, these two approaches can be combinedin a single ghazal.

Guidelines

Format

You have a range of formats to choose from:

Please note that the Persian/Urdu ghazal differs from the Arabic in form, although definitions such as Answers.com do not make this distinction.

The Rules

To be considered for the special issue presenting this challenge, your ghazal must follow the theme and format specifications.

If there are special concerns of format in your ghazals — spacing, style, etc — attach a document that shows the formatting you want. It can be in Word DOC, Open Office, WordPerfect, or PDF format.



The Music Challenge (Completed)

For this challenge, the theme is music. There is an immense vocabulary to draw on for rhymes (qafiya) and repeated phrases (radif), as well as for other aspects of the ghazal. Ghazals submitted to this challenge might focus on musicians, composers, instruments, genres, technical terms, and more. You might even use a musical form as the basis for your ghazals: twelve-bar blues, for instance, might work well with the tercet ghazal.

The Format

You have a range of formats to choose from:

Please note that the Persian/Urdu ghazal differs from the Arabic in form, although definitions such as Answers.com do not make this distinction.

The Rules

To be considered for the special issue presenting this challenge, your ghazal must follow the theme and format specifications.

If there are special concerns of format in your ghazals — spacing, style, etc — attach a document that shows the formatting you want. It can be in Word DOC, Open Office, WordPerfect, or PDF format.



The Change Challenge (Completed)

For this challenge, the theme is change. Change is both abstract and varied, so there is a lot of scope for responses. Here are some suggestions for limiting the theme:

The Format

You have a range of formats to choose from:

Please note that the Persian/Urdu ghazal differs from the Arabic in form, although definitions such as Answers.com do not make this distinction.

The Rules

To be considered for the special issue presenting this challenge, your ghazal must follow the theme and format specifications.

If there are special concerns of format in your ghazals — spacing, style, etc — attach a document that shows the formatting you want. It can be in Word DOC, Open Office, WordPerfect, or PDF format.



The Astronomy Challenge (Completed)

The theme of the new challenge is astronomy. As with the books challenge, the astronomy challenge focuses on a theme rather than a common radif or format. (See under "The Format" the formal possibilities for this challenge. You may submit up to three ghazals on some astronomical theme. The form of the ghazals may be "traditional" (Persian/Urdu), Arabic, tercets, "free," or some variation of any of these. Note that a "free" ghazal must be in couplets or single long lines and have "jumps" between couplets or lines.

The Theme

Astronomy is an encompassing topic, including planets, stars, asteroids, comets, nebulae, galaxies, dark matter, supernovae, black holes, quantum foam, string theory, constellations, auroras, space vehicles, even our sun and moon — anything beyond the earth's atmosphere, even perceived from down at the bottom of this lovely gravity well.

The Ghazal Page has published several examples of ghazals with astronomical themes: "Leonard's Moon," by Taylor Graham, "Of Stars," by David Lunde, and the results of a challenge with the radif "moon." These are examples of traditional Persian/Urdu ghazals. Here's an example of a free ghazal, with fourteen-syllable lines. It also has a signature couplet.

The Format

You have a range of formats to choose from:

Please note that the Persian/Urdu ghazal differs from the Arabic in form, although definitions such as Answers.com do not make this distinction.

The Rules

To be considered for the special issue presenting this challenge, your ghazal must follow the theme and format specifications.

If there are special concerns of format in your ghazals — spacing, style, etc — attach a document that shows the formatting you want. It can be in Word DOC, Open Office, WordPerfect, or PDF format.



The Book Ghazal Challenge (Completed)

Previous challenges focused on form, with a common radif or the Arabic ghazal form. This challenge focuses on a theme — books. Even in an electronic world of text flowing on screens, the book remains valuable for us. We have all been influenced for better or worse by books or by a book.

For this challenge, write a ghazal with the theme "book" or "books." You may emphasize a specific book, books in general, a genre, a physical type of book. The ghazal you submit should explore the experience of books. For format, you have a number of options, explained below.

The Theme

Your focus should be a book, several books, or a genre. While you may mention authors (naturally!), please keep the focus on the books. Physical format of the book(s) may also be important: the direction in which your native language is written, for instance, or the type of binding, the type of paper and cover. You might consider eBooks as well.

The Format

You have a range of formats to choose from:

Please note that the Persian/Urdu ghazal differs from the Arabic in form, although definitions such as Answers.com do not make this distinction.

The Rules

To be considered for the special issue presenting this challenge, your ghazal must follow the theme and format specifications.

If there are special concerns of format in your ghazals — spacing, style, etc — attach a document that shows the formatting you want. It can be in Word DOC, Open Office, WordPerfect, or PDF format.




The Arabic Ghazal Challenge (Completed)

This challenge is to write an English ghazal using the Arabic approach described by David Jalajel.

There are some key aspects to this challenge:

Here are some options for you to decide:

Send your ghazals (1 –) for this challenge by 1 March 2010. It's preferable if you send them in the body of a text-only email, but if you wish, send an attached word-processor document. I should be able to open almost any format. In your email, tell me that

I will look forward to a number of excellent poems.

There are several examples in David Jalajel's article on using the Arabic approach to the ghazal. You may group lines as he has done. Here's a ghazal I wrote as an example in addition to David Jalajel's:

Before pouring olive oil into the pan, I chop garlic
on the wooden board, opening a garden with each strike.
My Darling rises before me, before the sun and Sirius,
the star of these Dog Days of summer, star of heat stroke.
In the yard, two rabbits sit calmly, pausing from their meal
to keep an eye on me and the dog, fearful of any trick.
Ingmar Bergman died today; I imagine his funeral filmed
in his manner, shades of gray, its settings cool and stark.
Paging through Arberry's translation of Rumi's ghazals,
I pause for any passage where the words find me awake.
Gino, I can't imagine why you spend your time threading
words on these shaky lines, never naming What you seek.

Here is the same ghazal with each "couplet" presented as a single line:

Before pouring olive oil into the pan, I chop garlic on the wooden board, opening a garden with each strike.
My Darling rises before me, before the sun and Sirius, the star of these Dog Days of summer, star of heat stroke.
In the yard, two rabbits sit calmly, pausing from their meal to keep an eye on me and the dog, fearful of any trick.
Ingmar Bergman died today; I imagine his funeral filmed in his manner, shades of gray, its settings cool and stark.
Paging through Arberry's translation of Rumi's ghazals, I pause for any passage where the words find me awake.
Gino, I can't imagine why you spend your time threading words on these shaky lines, never naming What you seek.

Either format is fine for this challenge.

Former Challenges

You may read the results of the challenges via the special issues index. If reading these poems inspires you to write ghazals that would have fit the contest, please send them along for possible publication in a regular issue. If you browse the last couple of years' issues, you'll see some ghazals written like that.

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