Malaysian hybrid ghazals

Joseph Marshall, Elizabeth Marshall (2022) Malaysian hybrid ghazals. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The English ghazals originated from Urdu ghazals, which had evolved from Arabia. Melancholia is a central component in such ghazals. Reading English ghazals brought the realisation that this form is suited to themes of heartbreak and unrequited love, one that is also central to my writing. Agha Shahid Ali edited Ravishing DisUnities: Real Ghazals in English (2000) to take back the form and offered a framework. Consequently, I crafted Malaysian hybrid ghazals based on his framework.

There are three chief purposes of this creative writing thesis. The first purpose was to further hybridise the ghazals written by Shahid Ali. Secondly, to create ghazals that are multi-toned, and finally, to use a pre-dominantly Sufi-Muslim construct to house biblical Catholic metaphor and allusions. In the anthology that he edited Shahid Ali states his eight requirements for a ghazal. For the purposes of this thesis, 100 ghazals were written with the aim of following these eight requirements: (1) the ghazals should be between 5–12 couplets; (2) the ghazal should contain no enjambments; (3) each couplet should stand alone; (4) the ghazal should have a rhyme scheme and a refrain; (5) each line must be of the same length; (6) the last couplet should contain the takhalus; (7) the scheme of rhyme and refrain should occur in both lines of the first couplet and then only in the second of every succeeding couplet; (8) ghazals should be written in terse language that evokes sorrow, heartbreak, and constant longing. Takhalus originates from Arabic, meaning "nom-de-plume."

An analysis of the 100 ghazals revealed that the ghazals did not consistently follow the framework of Shahid Ali’s eight rules completely. All the ghazals written in the portfolio adhered to requirement (1), except for Ghazal 49, which is in four couplets. A sizeable number of the ghazals followed rule (2), no enjambments, rendering most couplets un-enjambed. The first part of rule (4) was never achieved, as none of the Malaysian hybrid ghazals have a rhyme. However, almost all the ghazals have a refrain. Rule (5) was followed successfully on the grounds of aesthetics, by arranging the lines on the page so that they are of the same length.

One fifth of every ghazal, (20 ghazals) written for this portfolio contains the takhalus, “Elizabeth.” The findings revealed that the majority of the ghazals were melancholic—love poems longing for the beloved and lost opportunities—sustaining the spirit of the ghazal. The final rule on language was disrupted and interrogated to a large extent, with 119 words from the Malay, Chinese, Turkish, Tamil, Malayalam, and Arabic languages incorporated into Malaysian hybrid ghazals.

What emerged are hybrid ghazals, which I term Malaysian hybrid English ghazals; a manifest use of indigenous languages in the ghazals. Their multi-tonality speaks of sorrow and joy. These Malaysian hybrid ghazals use Catholic motifs. The considerations were only on the contemplations of Shahid Ali, contained in Ravishing DisUnities: Real Ghazals in English. The result of this study is two-pronged. First, a collection of 100 Malaysian hybrid English ghazals, a form not known to be attempted in Malaysia before. Secondly, a definition of Malaysian hybrid English ghazal.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Vethamani, Malachi Edwin
Remoto, Danton
Keywords: English ghazals, hybrid ghazals, notion of melancholy
Subjects: P Language and literature > PN Literature (General)
Faculties/Schools: University of Nottingham, Malaysia > Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of English
Item ID: 68467
Depositing User: Joseph Marshall, Elizabeth
Date Deposited: 23 Jul 2022 04:40
Last Modified: 31 Dec 2023 04:30

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