Lin­da Stern Zisquit
  • Review
By – September 20, 2012
The chal­lenge of the ghaz­al is more intense than many of the strict forms in the poet­ic tra­di­tion. While even a fair ses­ti­na or vil­lanelle can impress by its sheer tech­ni­cal audac­i­ty, a ghaz­al places all its chips on a sin­gle word or phrase. It is not rhyme or pat­tern, then, which gov­erns the poem’s agen­da, but that one phrase/word’s ener­gy and élan. The great­est prac­ti­tion­er in recent times has been the Kash­miri Amer­i­can poet Agha Shahid Ali, and his excel­lence tends to make oth­er efforts drab by com­par­i­son. Even Lin­da Stern Zisquit seems will­ing to acknowl­edge the lim­its of the form, as in Ghaz­al: Ache” where she writes, Stern has already disappointed/​with this attempt, this futile sore ache.” While she does accom­plish sev­er­al beau­ti­ful ver­sions, I was relieved to find in the mid­dle of this chap­book a respite, when she slips into the loos­er fab­rics of free verse. Song,” ded­i­cat­ed to Robert Cree­ley, bears the limpid hon­esty of its admired sub­ject, while Lis­ten” shows her ver­bal verve and sensuality.
Jason Myers is a writer whose work has appeared in AGNI, BOOK­FO­RUM, and Tin House.

Discussion Questions