A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


I am trying to raise some moolah on Kickstarter to publish a book of ghazals commemorating the life and work of James Foley, American Journalist. We are going to call it, Ghazals for Foley.  met Jim in grad school and we quickly became compinches. We suffered through helming Freshman Comp classes, and Jim taught me a lot about teaching; we even taught together at the Care Center in Holyoke, MA.

To this day, I don't know if it was Jim's moral sense that drove his work in Syria and Lybia, or his naivete, our specific brand of American innocence. These are the facts though: Jim was a freelance combat journalist; he had to sell his reportage to continue to report on Syria; he worked in extremely dangerous situations, with extremely sanguine and unsavory characters; the area he was reporting on was highly contended, with both side willing to commit atrocities (documented) against civilians.

(screenshot of the Ghazals for Foley Kickstarter Page)

I would like to use the ghazal because it is such an old form. According to Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature, the ghazal is "a lyric poem, generally short and graceful in form and typically dealing with themes of love." In terms of structure, the ghazal "begin[s] with a rhymed couplet whose rhyme is repeated in all subsequent even lines. The odd lines are unrhymed." It is a very Arabic, middle-eastern poetic form and it's used a lot in music and lyrics.

What I find most interesting about the ghazal is that it was introduced to the west by the German Romantics, guys like Goethe and Schlegel. According to LitFinder Classic Collection "ghazals are essentially lyrics distinguished by having a limited number of stanzas and by the recurrence of the same rhyme." Those of you who know Jimmy like I knew him knew him to be extremely discursive and recursive, always spitting rhymes and talking about "bars". One of his characters in a novel he had just finished, "Hungry Son," likes to write rhymes while doing his "time" in a youth camp for incarcerated youth in Cook County.

According to The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (3ed.), the ghazal is a "short lyric poem written in couplets using a single rhyme (aa, ba, ca, da, etc.), sometimes mentioning the poet's name in the last couplet." Authors have to be inventive in how they repeat and replicate the line, and it is very personal because the poet signs it at the end with his or her name. When people think ghazals, they think of Rumi, and I think they are right to. I have yet to discern in which ways Rumi and ghazals diverge.

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