INTRODUCTION TO #56
Issue 56 teems with 50 poems by writers from four continents. You'll find Persian ghazals of every variation, experimental works (in particular, Karla Linn Merrifield prods, pushes, and plays with conventions, and Dawn V. Randall further fragments the form), tercet, free verse, hybrid, and even a collaborative poem. We welcome debut contributors as well as longtime friends, such as William Dennis, who appeared in our first issue over 15 years ago. In many biographies, poets share what the ghazal means to them, and, often, how Gene's encouragement helped them grow as artists.
These poems are peppered with romance, loss, longing, and resolute joy— the ghazal is, after all, famous for its passion. Issue 56 also features powerful drama, travelogues to Egypt, Iran, and Cuba, dispatches from the modern dating scene, Beatriz F. Fernandez's meta-ghazal, sports, Rumi, Hypatia, Dorothy and her yellow brick road, a little bit of night music, and even a certain famous bucolic scene. In addition, a review of R.W. Watkins' stellar anthology, Contemporary Ghazals, asks the question, Is this 1,000-year-old form relevant to today's poetry?
On a personal note, I owe a debt to Gene and The Ghazal Page. It's no overstatement to say that this journal helped rekindle my love of poetry. I was lucky enough to be introduced to free verse ghazals in high school by a great writer, Michael Delp, and I was immediately taken with these enchanting, quirky, freeing, and, above all— fun!— poems. Nearly ten years later, however, I had begun to consider myself a die-hard short story writer. Then, one day, I stumbled across something called The Ghazal Page, and my interest was piqued. Thanks to the wealth of resources Gene gathered, I taught myself the Persian form, and gingerly submitted one free and one traditional poem. To my delight, they were accepted, and suddenly I had to deal with the fact that I was, of all things, a confirmed poet. It didn't take long for me to warm back up to poetry as a whole, and today, I'm contentedly enveloped in lyrics, which sustains me as a writer but, moreover, as a human.
I hope you enjoy this beautiful, bursting Issue 56. It's been my honor to work with so many talented poets on this, my first issue as editor. This one's for you, Gene— and you, too, Gino!
Holly Jensen, June 2015