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Download Call Me Ishmael Tonight: A Book of Ghazals epub

by Agha Shahid Ali

"Ali's ghazals are contemporary and colloquial, deceptively simple, yet still grounded in tradition....Highly recommended."―Library Journal

The beloved Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali presents his own American ghazals. Calling on a line or phrase from fellow poets, Ali salutes those known and loved―W. S. Merwin, Mark Strand, James Tate, and more―while in other searingly honest verse he courageously faces his own mortality.
Download Call Me Ishmael Tonight: A Book of Ghazals epub
ISBN: 0393326128
ISBN13: 978-0393326123
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Poetry
Author: Agha Shahid Ali
Language: English
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (October 17, 2004)
Pages: 88 pages
ePUB size: 1249 kb
FB2 size: 1623 kb
Rating: 4.8
Votes: 178
Other Formats: doc txt docx lrf

Just beautiful. If you'd like to learn about ghazals, study this master.
Agha Shahi Ali brilliantly word crafts. He uses words outside of their standard function, plays with sounds, and brings forth ideas that leave the reader smiling and wowed. This book of poems will open your eyes to the perspective of Muslims living in diaspora. A treasure for your bookshelf awaits.
Good quality.
Agha Shahid Ali's love for the somewhat recherché form of the ghazal, and his appreciation for his fellow poets, are most infectious indeed. One marvels at the ingenuity of these poems -- making a form whose insistent refrain can be an obstacle to appreciation, not only palatable, but downright enticing! We hesitate to choose favorites, but "Even the Rain" (with its nod to Edward Estlin Cummings) lingers in the mind long after one has read the poem. In these ghazals, one does find matters political and religious alluded to in a ludic, almost playful, fashion. And the permutations of the rhyme (for some ghazals, one must find as many as a dozen rhymes for the "qafia," or initial rhyme-word) present no challenge, but instead seem effortlessly virtuosic, in Shahid Ali's hands. Even the reader who is inclined to find the ghazal somewhat disaffecting in its "formality" cannot help but be "startled into felicity" (as Marianne Moore would say) by these unburdensomely expert, light-heartedly accomplished pieces.

Also recommended, the anthology of ghazals edited by Agha Shahid Ali: Ravishing DisUnities: Real Ghazals in English (Wesleyan Poetry Series).
Reviewed by Summer Lopez for Small Spiral Notebook

Call Me Ishmael Tonight was published in 2003, two years after author, Agha Shahid Ali died of brain cancer. You don't need to know this before you read his lovely collection of ghazals, but it does make these graceful verses all the more powerful to know they were written in the shadow of eternity: "Even Death won't hide the poor Fugitive forever; / on Doomsday he will learn he must live forever."

The ghazal is an ancient Persian form of poetry, and Ali uses this traditional structure to his advantage in contemplating modern life. Within the strict schema of the verse, Ali finds space to stretch his impressive linguistic muscles. In language that is both playful and elegant, timely and timeless, Ali constructs beautiful poems which are clearly the voice of a man looking back on his life with wisdom and humor.

The construction of the ghazal involves the use of a repeated rhyme followed by a refrain, usually one word or a short phrase, which Ali also uses as the title of each poem. This format creates a sense of suspense not often found in poetry, leaving you wondering how each couplet will end and whether it will make you laugh, cry, or merely wonder at his creativity. Can you possibly not love a poet who rhymes "Guggenheim" with "paradigm" and "Le Chaim?" The poems' refrains-"Arabic," "water," "bones," "by exiles," "of light" and "God," to name a few-guide us through lines packed with allusions to the Koran, Borges, and Rushdie. And at the end of many poems, Ali works in his own name, like the shadow of a ghost, leaving us to wonder who he truly wishes to address when he asks, "You've forgiven everyone, Shahid, even God- / Then how could someone like you not live forever?" Perhaps he could not, but thankfully, his verses continue to burn with life.
"Call Me Ishmael Tonight: A Book of Ghazals," by Agha Shahid Ali, is a truly distinctive addition to American poetry. The "About the Author" section notes that Ali was a Kashmiri-American who was born in New Delhi and held a number of academic posts in the U.S. before his death in 2001. A short note on the ghazal briefly describes the history and structure of this poetic form.
Each ghazal is made up of a series of couplets. In general the second line of each couplet repeats a rhyme and refrain (with the first couplet of the series using this rhyme and refrain in both lines). For example, the poem "By Exiles" ends three sample lines "...torn wild by exiles," "...compiled by exiles," and "...beguiled by exiles." At first I found the book hard to warm too. The ghazal structure itself struck me as distracting; the form seemed to call too much attention to itself and to overwhelm the content. But I found repeated readings to be rewarding and illuminating.
Ali has a vision with a remarkable multicultural sweep. Woven into the ghazals are many references--Lorca, Oscar Wilde, "The Satanic Verses," Apollo, Pocahontas, Bartleby, Borges, etc. There is a lot of religious material in the poems also, at times making it feel like some boldly contemporary scripture. Other important themes are death, loss, and language.
At times the book has an irreverent or satiric flavor. It is filled with some astonishing imagery. Ultimately "Call Me Ishmael" reads like a meeting place of cultures. At times hypnotic, surreal, apocalyptic, chaotic, ironic, cryptic, and tragic, it's a work of haunting beauty.