Interrogating a Poet

by Shadab Zeest Hashmi You write of your country as if from a great distance. Distance is journey’s squinting twin; it courts vision. My country, you will understand, came from vision’s egg. It came from a dreamer of journeys—a poet who entertained nightly the spirits of distant poets: Plato, Ghazali, Rumi, Hafiz, Goethe— sojourners all.…

Jinn

by Shadab Zeest Hashmi Jinn: a spirit capable of appearing in human and animal forms and influencing humankind for either good or evil. A startling laugh, low as if muffled by a dupatta, an old net dupatta I imagine, makes me turn but there is no one there. The walls are the color of vanilla…

The Qasida as a Vehicle of Desire in Lorca’s “Casida De La Rosa”

by Shadab Zeest Hashmi Federico Garcia Lorca’s casidas are free adaptations of the Andalusi-Arabic qasidas, which he had read in Spanish. In Robert Bly’s English rendition of Lorca’s casidas, the flavor of the classical Arabic qasida form has been preserved to a considerable extent, even though it reaches us through various levels of distillation: first,…

“Saying” the Ghazal: Duende and Performing the Courtly Art of the Ghazal

by Shadab Zeest Hashmi Mughal miniature showing a poetry reading, c. 1640-50 The ghazal entered my consciousness first as music (on Radio Pakistan or my parents’ LPs), accessible only through melody, beat, rhyme, refrain; the poem’s literary heft, of course, utterly lost on me. The ghazal was really a visceral stimulus in my pre-language existence…

Rain Meditation

by Shadab Zeest Hashmi Heat is eerie: lipsticks left unrefrigerated melt into deformity, ice cream liquefies and renders the scoop useless; fruit and flower stalls carry the smell of that peculiar cusp between ripe and rotten. Then rain comes, licking the sky green; the veil between the mysteries and the sun-weary, bleached and hardened world…