New Features, Formal Constraints, & Faiz Achmed Faiz

I’m going to be introducing regular features to Super Mattachine–I have two specific ones in mind.  I’m doing this for a few reasons.  Firstly, I’m looking for a way to add more structure to my work on this blog.  I enjoy writing about whatever I think of that day and can provide a helpful critique of or comment on, but there ought to be more to it. This is a practical matter: I want readers to know what they’re bound to get, as opposed to being at the mercy of my disparate political stream of consciousness.


The second reason is a creative issue.  I’m about to sound a little annoying and college-student-who-thinks-he-is-a-writer; I’m sorry about that.  I have tried very hard but unfortunately I am a college student who thinks he is a writer.  As a writer–oh no, it’s happening!–I swear by the notion of the formal constraint.  Almost all my favorite poets either write in form or have such a developed understanding of form that their free verse creates its own forms.  (Maybe someday I will go on and on about this in this space.)  Good writing is hard to do with just a blank page.  It is easier, and you are more likely to produce better work, if you have a formal of some sort to work from.  That can be as simple as a sort of genre, like an elegy or a political polemic, or as demanding as writing an entire novel without the letter E.


With those things in mind, I’m introducing two regular features to this blog: Love Letters and Conversations.


The love letter is one of my favorite forms; I like telling people what I like about them in specific ways.  I think the love letter is also useful politically.  The great poet Faiz Achmed Faiz wrote political ghazals–that’s an Arabic poetic form of longing, often addressed to a lover or to Allah.  He made the addressee of these ghazals not just the “you” of the lover or of Allah, but a sociopolitical you.  The lover Faiz longs for in his poems can be justice, it can be truth, it can be a precolonial world, it can be the hidden spirit of the Pakistani people.  Talking to these political entities as though they’re lovers brings out something in Faiz’s poetry that makes you long to make a better world.  They do just what good love letters do: bring out what you’ve always needed to tell someone that you never did.  Not only do you tell them what you love about them, you tell them what needs to change in your relationship for you to continue being happily in love.  Or go back to being happily in love. Or be happily in love ever.


So I have a love letter in the works already.  It’s addressed to the straight women in my life.  (I’m a believer in the wonder of the hag, although I do not like the term “fag hag.”)  Hopefully I’ll be able to one day write something that is as good as whatever Faiz Achmed Fez used to fingerpaint as a toddler.  But that will take a long time.  In fact, you should not read my blog and instead go read the complete works of Faiz Achmed Faiz.  I will not be offended if this is what you choose to do with your time.


The second feature I want to introduce is Conversations.  I’m sure you’re familiar with the idea of Two Important People In Conversation.  I’m not important, but I do like conversations, and really this is just an excuse for me to introduce you to friends of mine who are also activists and/or artists in my community and whose ideas I think are valuable.  I think better when I have someone who isn’t in my head to talk to, and I obviously only have one perspective and set of privileged and oppressed identities.


The first of these will feature the brilliant Chungyen Chang, an Asian American feminist poet trans woman writer human being whom I admire so much.  Right now Chungyen runs From One Survivor to Another, the blog I just linked you to, where she analyzes sexual abuse, difference, and oppression with finesse and also sometimes pictures of cute animals.  We’re probably going to talk about abuse and survival as it relates to social justice, but it’s up in the air at the moment.  When it goes live, I promise it will be interesting.


I’m not holding myself to a strict schedule on these features, but there will be at least one of each every month.  Probably more, but that’s the bare minimum.


That’s the news!  You can expect the first Love Letter to be posted tomorrow.

3 Responses to “New Features, Formal Constraints, & Faiz Achmed Faiz”

  1. 1 Ben January 13, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    I’m looking forward to reading what you come up with!

  2. 2 Ginevra January 14, 2012 at 2:55 am

    You may also consider submitting your poetry to the radio program “words & music” which is on Friday evenings from 9-10 on wmnr 91.5.
    Wmnr Fine Arts Radio
    P.O. Box 920
    Monroe, CT

    They are particularly interested in previosly unpublished work. They also read poetry that is “common domain.”

  3. 3 Kristen January 14, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    I would like to see some conversations with people like myself who have limited exposure to the LGBT community. One of my closest friends is a gay man and we’ve discussed the fact that he seems to entertain his gay friends and his straight friends separately. He feels many of his straight friends aren’t comfortable around gays or that they may say the wrong thing. I don’t completely disagree with him but feel that by keeping us separate, you’re closing off parts of your life.
    My daughter has a friend who recently came out of the closet and it was really wonderful to see that the kids his age were very accepting. Unfortunately it was the adults who had the problem. To say that people are homophobic or ignorant doesn’t solve the problem. I hate to use the word exposure as if the LGBT community is an experiment, but I do think a lack of knowing anyone who is gay or trans leads to misinformation and the perpetuation of stereotypes.
    I’m not a mean spirited person and consider myself very open, but I think saying I’m open is sort of ignorant. Open to what? People being who they are? I’d like to see more attitudes like my daughter and her friends where they don’t understand why it would even be a conversation. To them it just is. If that makes sense. Maybe some conversations could start there.

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