Blackbird an online journal of literature and the arts Fall 2007  Vol. 6 No. 2


Chris Abani
Victoria Chang
Michael Chitwood
Keith Ekiss
Gibson Fay-LeBlanc
Beth Ann Fennelly
Raza Ali Hasan
James Hoch
Cyan James
Julia Johnson
Larry Levis
Khaled Mattawa
Timothy O’Keefe
Catherine Pierce
Jon Pineda
John Poch
Austin Segrest
Louie Skipper
Ron Smith
Robert Thomas
Joshua Weiner
Lesley Wheeler
Charles Wright


From 67 mogul miniatures

These poems are inspired by Mohammad Iqbal’s two part sequence of Urdu poems called Shikwa (Complaint) and Jawab-e-Shikwa (Answer to Complaint), published in 1909 and 1913.  The first part is a formal complaint to God and the second part is God’s answer. 

This sequence provided Iqbal with a framework through which he critiqued the relationship between the West and the colonized world.  I adapt Iqbal’s traditional Urdu poetic form of musaddas (a short poetic unit consisting of three rhyming couplets) to a free verse poem with three unrhyming couplets. My variation of Iqbal’s poem called 67 mogul miniatures loosely follows the narrative arc of the original sequence and transforms his vision for the contemporary world.  end of text