WD Poetic Form Challenge: Ghazal Winner

Whew! As with the kyrielle challenge, this was a tough one for me to judge. I think I short-listed more than 30 poems, so it was a challenge for me to even get down to a Top 10 list, let alone choose a winner. But the list has been picked–as has the winner.

I could only pick 10, so many great ghazals (learn more about ghazals here) were left out in the cold. Here are the ones that made it through my several readings:

10. Poesy, by Nancy Posey
9. Regret, by Emily Anderson
8. Menu for Romance, by Amy Barlow Liberatore
7. Bodies in a Room, by Linda Goin
6. Across the Room, by Meena Rose
5. Ghazal Sequence: In Memoriam, by Christine Bloom
4. The Throes, by Daniel Ari
3. A Ghazal to a Mountain, by Suren Oganessian
2. A Ghazal for Alcatraz, by Taylor Graham
1. “Can these crumpled leaves…,” by Tiel Aisha Ansari

Before sharing Tiel’s excellent ghazal, I just wanted to make a mention of Taylor Graham. Before deciding on the Top 10, there was a super competitive list of 18. Taylor had three poems in that final 18. So I just want to send out some kudos.

And here’s the winning ghazal:

“Can these crumpled leaves…”
by Tiel Aisha Ansari


Can these crumpled leaves really hold a flower?

A fist clenched this tight would crush any flower.


A glimpse of sky through the roof of a bower

naked to the wind and unclothed with flowers.


Emerald enamel sheathes the walls of this tower,

this bud that imprisons the thought of a flower.


And the hopeful search, and the desperate scour

their hearts for a glimpse of a beckoning flower.


Last summer’s savor has turned to sour

for want of the perfume of opening flowers.


And no one can dream yet of a tranquil hour

when bees might rest upon an outspread flower.


The Bride of the Beloved will reveal her dower

when God calls “Open” to the sleeping flower.




Congratulations, Tiel! And props to the rest of the Top 10! It was a tough list to make.


Thank you to everyone who participated. It was a great joy reading everyone’s poems.


Plus, I hope to release the deadline for the next form contest sometime this week. Stay tuned.




Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer




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40 thoughts on “WD Poetic Form Challenge: Ghazal Winner

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  8. Daniel Ari

    Thanks for the challenge, Robert. I very much like the ghazal form and feel sure I’ll keep it in my repertoire (though I continue to pronounce it to rhyme with "Duvall").

    Also congrats to all – including everyone who tried the form.


  9. Karen H. Phillips

    After reading Tiel’s poem, it’s clear from her beautiful use of language to convey meaning, her poem’s a winner.

    My congrats to Tiel, Taylor, Suren, Daniel, Christine, Meena, Linda, Amy, Emily, and Nancy. I recognized most of your names from reading your outstanding work previously.

  10. Linda Goin

    I didn’t see that I was in the top ten until after my congrats to Tiel. Wow. I feel encouraged!

    Congrats to all the other poets, too — what a great learning experience this was for me, and you all helped me to understand the ghazal during a very difficult time in my life. I’m honored. And, to Amy re: the Living Waters, congrats — esp. for a ghazal!

  11. Taylor Graham

    Congratulations Tiel, what a lovely poem! And congrats to the top ten and to everyone who took on the challenge and wrote a ghazal. Thanks, Robert, for these challenges!

  12. Amy Barlow Liberatore

    Tiel! Congratulations on a beautiful ghazal! I am flattered at being chosen for the top ten – forms are not in my usual repertoire, and I thank Robert for continuing to challenge me.

    Believe it or not, ANOTHER ghazal I wrote, Ghazal For The Gulf Coast Tragedy, was just chosen by Poets For Living Waters as an Open Mic selection. I’m proud to be in Linda’s company on such a worthy project. That poem can be found at

    Thanks again for a lively challenge. I’m not that "into" competition, but I guess it’s part and parcel of the work of the poet! Amy