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Fetch the Fire: Writing the Ghazal Workshop with Usha Akella (via Zoom)

February 12 @ 12:30 pm - 2:30 pm


website maker The ghazal—the form architected to express the universal language of Love is one of the East’s more known poetic forms in the West. We will learn about the history, tropes, themes and stylistic intricacies of this couplet-form while learning how to write one—adapting it to contemporary usage without losing the charm of its original spirit and flavor. We will explore the magic of cadence, rhythm and repetition to unify a poem while also learning how to use the power of suggestion through brevity in expression. We will listen to ghazals in Urdu by well-known singers and composed by Urdu poets to enjoy the ghazal’s aural quality.

The class will be held via Zoom and capped at 15. The Zoom link will be emailed at the time of registration. (Please check spam / promotions filters.) Please read the course policies page before attending any class. Please email [email protected] with any questions.

Usha Akella has authored four books of poetry, one chapbook, and scripted/produced two musical dramas. She earned a Master of Studies (Mst) in Creative Writing from the University of Cambridge, UK. She is the founder of Matwaala (www.matwaala.com) and hosts www.the-pov.com, an interview and conversations website. Matwaala is the first South Asian Diaspora Poets Festival in the US that she co-directs with Pramila Venkateswaran. She is also the founder of the Poetry Caravan in New York and Austin.

Usha Akella writes with ‘Sanskrit mantras in her veins,’ from an exceedingly broad perspective – as feminist, activist, organizer, poet-citizen, engaging an intellect profoundly contemporary with the times. She spans a long reach, from the looming questions and fears around our intense and out of control pandemic to India’s National trauma in the Delhi rape case. ‘Each of us is a naïve question as we always have been/curved like an embryo.’ She probes, she thinks with each situation, she grapples with the world in all its manifestations, also as a mother, poised in anticipation of what may come, but always with a steady heart and hand and ear in poetry. One line sent chills up my spine, as she contemplates all kinds of extinctions. An image of Virginia Woolf ‘inching into the Ouse.’ We are truly at precipice and this poetry can help wake up the world to itself. Kudos.” —Anne Waldman, author of Trickster Feminism and Extinction Aria

Grabbing the heart of the heart-sick lover, you’re slipping away,

You had come to fetch the fire, now you slink away!

—Mohammed Ibrahim Zauq (1788-1855)


The fire of love is such a hell,

Which displays the sights of heaven.

—Jigar Moradabadi (1893-1960)


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February 12
12:30 pm - 2:30 pm
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Hudson Valley Writers Center
Philipse Manor Station
Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591 United States