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A star-studded anthology infuses English poetry with the rigor and wit of a foreign form.
In recent years, the ghazal (pronounced "ghuzzle"), a traditional Arabic form of poetry, has become popular among contemporary English language poets. But like the haiku before it, the ghazal has been widely misunderstood and thus most English ghazals have been far from the mark in both letter and spirit. This anthology brings together ghazals by a rich gathering of 107 poets including Diane Ackerman, John Hollander, W. S. Merwin, William Matthews, Paul Muldoon, Ellen Bryant Voigt, and many others. As this dazzling collection shows, the intricate and self-reflexive ghazal brings the writer a unique set of challenges and opportunities. Agha Shahid Ali's lively introduction gives a brief history of the ghazal and instructions on how to compose one in English. An elegant afterword by Sarah Suleri Goodyear elucidates the larger issues of cultural translation and authenticity inherent in writing in a "borrowed" form.