This Thursday evening I’ll talk about poetry and read the new material I’ve been writing.. Over the last year I’ve spoken frequently to promote my book, Untold, which is going into its second Christmas season. I just sent one book to Western Australia, one to Reading, England, and two to Rabat, Morocco, and I still love to talk about the stories and read poems about the first women of Islam.
Here’s a new poem about Fatima, the famous daughter of Prophet Muhammad. I’ve taken a description which comes from a hadith [canonized conversations by Muhammad and his inner circle].
“Fatima would glow. Her (other) name, Zahra, means radiant. Three times each day she shone: on those in morning prayer and on the people in their beds. Their Medina walls turned white. They asked the Prophet why, and he sent them to Fatima’s house where she prayed. The light radiated out from her. The light of her face shone on the people of the heavens and the people of earth… When she lined up for noon prayer her face shone yellow and all those in the line shared that glow. At sunset, her face took on a reddish color, entered the rooms and the walls glowed pinkish red. The light did not leave her face until Husayn (her youngest son) was born.” Fatima, Daughter of Muhammad, Christopher P. Clohessy, Gorgias Press, 2009.Shine, a sonnet ~After Robert Frost’s The Silken Tent The shining happened every day, in tent And hut, in every room. It seemed the breeze would linger there, as Zahra’s glow relent- lessly lit up those praying, those at ease. That light reached sky and earth just like a pole star, glowing here and gleaming heavenward. Her face. At dawn so white, it bleached the soul of doubt. By noon-prayer yellow plucked a cord of joy. As if the women there were bound in Zahra’s golden ties of love and thought. And when the swallows flew as sun’s round ball turned red and sank below the taut line of the earth, red stayed in land and air; Zahra’s face shone conscious and aware.
Robert Frost’s poetry t is entwined with this poem. Look at the last words, all 14 of them. If you get a good last word, it helps with the process of a sonnet and in this case each end-word is found in Frost’s famous and beautiful Silken Tent. There may be a term for that kind of poetic borrowing. I don’t know. But writing inside Frost like that felt like moving down a playground slide. It’s a gratifying exercise.
The other poetry I’ve been working with is Blank Verse. I talk about it in my last review G. Schnackenberg’s Heavenly Questions. You can read my new poem in iambic pentameter, Bequest, at the on-line Literary Journal, Scythe: Fall, 2011 –Tamam Kahn <http://scytheliteraryjournal.com/>
I’ve moved the reviews I’ve been writing to a tab at the top of this site called, “REVIEWS.” I hope you will visit the authors I am sharing there. <>