Beyond Literary Landscapes—Poetry: Part 2

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.


While last week’s column focused on 21st-century poetry, this week’s section considers several poets predating this era.  This week, those interested in an introduction to the vast genre of pre-21st-century poetry, a reminder of some genre classics, and as an inspiration for further reading, may choose to begin with two major poets, namely Khāwje Shams-od-Dīn Moḥammad Ḥāfeẓ-e Shīrāzī, more commonly known as Hafez, and Jalāl ad-Dīn Mohammad Rūmī, more commonly known as Rumi.


As stated last week, poetry can be defined as “literature that evokes a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience or a specific emotional response through language chosen and arranged for its meaning, sound, and rhythm,” and is broken down into various types of poems.

Specifically, Rumi’s works can be classified as epics, lyrics, ghazals, and robāʿīyāt (quatrains), while Hafez’s are considered lyrics or ghazals.  (Ghazals are “a genre of lyric poem, generally short and graceful in form and typically dealing with themes of love.”)

For non-Farsi speakers, collections of English-(and various other) language translations of both Rumi’s and Hafez’s works are widely available.


Considered to be Persian poets, Rumi was born in Balkh, in present-day Afghanistan, and died in modern-day Konya, Turkey, while Hafez was born and lived in Shīrāz, Iran.


These works mainly take place in the 13th and 14th-centuries.


For readers interested in themes of love, faith, unity, Sufi mysticism, Islam, as well the Persian Empire, Rumi and Hafez are a start.


AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to Poetry are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with a counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in learning more about this topic are recommended to look into last week’s mention of ENGL 212: Poetry and Plays.  In addition, those who would like to try their hand at writing poetry themselves may consider ENGL 380: Writing Poetry is a senior-level, three-credit course, which focuses “on expanding poetic technique through guided practice, close reading, regular use of a writer’s notebook, constructive interaction with peers, and informed instructor responses.”  Happy reading!