‘Dust’ and other poems

01 June 2015

ABOUT THE POEMS Though not indigenous to the English poetic tradition, the ghazal, like the sonnet or the villanelle in centuries past, is now a site for some of the most innovative work in English poetry.

As exemplified in these poems by Shahnaz Bashir, the ghazal’s relatively long line allows the lyric speaker to range widely before finding his way back to the shore of the refrain—dust, rain, shoes. And because the poetic argument does not proceed (vertically, this time) in a straight line, each couplet can take the theme in a new direction, creating a sense of expanding amplitude within the couplets and across them. The form lends itself well to a tone of world-weariness, of being unable to defend oneself against the play of regret and yearning. Parsing life for its meanings and mysteries, every line resonates almost as an aphorism would.

Three Ghazals

Shahnaz Bashir teaches creative journalism and literary reportage at the Central University of Kashmir, where he is the coordinator of the media studies programme. His debut novel, The Half Mother, was published in June by Hachette India.