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Word Power

No matter what gift you give your significant other on Valentine's Day, creativity is always appreciated- it could be a mixed tape, a handmade photo album, or little charms- anything at all. But there are very few other things you can do that will measure up in creativity and a personal touch like writing a poem will. This is not recommended if you're lacking in aesthetic refinement and the person you're writing a poem for happens to be an English major, but this won't be that common a dilemma, so read on for the various different formats you can use to write your love poem. You can of course simply write free verse, but a structured format gives you a definite template, and there is a reason there are formats that have become famous for being traditionally about love. We'll start with the most obvious.

Sonnet- Every one of us has read at least one of Shakespeare's sonnets in our lifetime. It's one of the most commonly used poetry formats, and not just in the English language, but many of us know surprisingly little about its rigid structure. The basic knowledge is that a sonnet has fourteen lines. Yes, traditionally a sonnet has fourteen lines, and they are broken into two stanzas with eight lines in the first and six in the second, and the rhyme scheme of a sonnet is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. We mostly know this, even if we didn't know the exact rhyme scheme, but a sonnet also adheres to a very strict rhyme scheme. In English poetry, a sonnet traditionally sticks to the iambic pentameter. This means that each line has five iambs, which count as 10 syllables, an unstressed one followed by a stressed one. Traditionally a sonnet is about love, but many modern sonnets aren't about love at all (Children of Wealth in your Warm Nursery by Elizabeth Daryush). With the advent of free verse, the sonnet came to be seen as somewhat old-fashioned. But it's still a great format for a love poem, albeit a bit difficult. Go for this if you know what you're doing.

Ghazal- the Ghazal is an adaptation of a Persian form of poetry used to honour emperors and noblemen. A part of this poem broke off and evolved into what it is today. It is not a very commonly used English form as it was introduced recently.

The Ghazal is a string of 5 to 15 couplets, with each couplet being able to stand alone as a complete thought and/or poem. At the end of the second line of every couplet is a one to three word long refrain, or repetition of words. The word before the refrain is a rhyme that carries through the entire poem. Therefore a rhyming scheme would look like AA, BA, CA, DA, and so on. The first and last couplets are special. In the first couplet, called matla, the rhyme is used in both lines. The last couplet is the most personal one of the poem, and expresses something from the author's point of view. This form is extremely difficult to achieve but if you're up for a challenge then this should pay off, and it would certainly make someone happy, especially since a Ghazal basically is a poem written to honour someone.

Acrostic- An acrostic poem is created by arranging the first letter of each line so that they flow in an alphabetical order, or form a word or phrase. Rhyme and meter aren't really big issues in this style of poetry, which causes some to consider it not poetry at all. Also, the only set length is that of what you choose to represent with the first letters. However, it's been around for thousands of years. This style was common among the Greeks and derived from the Greek words akros, "at the end," and stichos, "line". It was used by Latin playwrights and Medieval monks; it was popular in the Middle High German and Italian renaissance periods. Write an acrostic poem for someone special; what would please them more to read a good poem, and then suddenly noticing that the first letter of every line spells out their name? Or maybe a message to them?

Rictameter- A rictameter is an interesting, and visually beautiful type of poem. When centered, it looks much like a diamond. It is similar in idea to a haiku as far as the spirit of the poem, but seems to be an evolution of a cinquain.

To form a rictameter, you start with a line of two syllables, then consecutively increase each syllable number in the next lines by two, until you reach ten syllables in the fifth line. Then, you start decreasing by two syllables, until you reach the same two syllable line you started with in the last line. The syllables would look something like this per line: 2,4,6,8,10,8,6,4,2. Try this out, and center it on a page, and you'll see that the poem takes the shape of a diamond. Another great form to write a poem about someone.

Conachlonn- this Irish form of poetry is a simple form of chain verse. The last word of one line, starts as the first word of the next line. This is simple to write, and makes the entire poem a chain, each line connected to the next by the same word. Though this form is simpler than the others, it is also extremely easy to make a mess of and make the poem boring because of the constant repetition. Unless the repeated words are used interestingly (one way could be to use two meanings of the same word in every occasion instead of just repeating a word without reason like you're in a bad pop song) this form is fraught with the danger of banality. Take extra precaution when attempting this one.

There are many other forms of poetry you could use, such as the English ode, or the Italian Terza Rima, just a little bit of research will bring about countless forms, and a little bit of reading of famous love poetry will give you an idea. Remember that just because you're writing for someone doesn't mean it has to be filled with messages of love for him or her, or it has to compliment the complexion of their neck in every line. It can be about anything that interests them. Or maybe not even that, just a random poem, but the fact that it's dedicated to them should be an honour.

And there is no rule that says you have to adhere to a strict form, like the ones we talked about. If you want, let your heart soar, have a freefall of all that love you have in your heart on paper, and give it to your loved one specially decorated. I will also recommend that instead of handing a printout of the poem, give it to the person handwritten, and make an effort at good handwriting even if for the one day. Pretend its art class. Have fun writing! Even if you don't get your valentine you'll definitely get a poem out of it, and that has to be worth something.

By Ahsan Sajid

Sweeney Todd in Sunbeams

By Anika Tabassum

Musicals have always been hard to perform, so when I went to see Sweeney Todd in Sunbeams I was curious to see how the students would pull it. It's a pleasure to say that they did pull it, and the audience was left spellbound.

The students of Sunbeams staged "Sweeney Todd- The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street" by Huge Wheeler (with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim) on Friday, February 6th and Saturday, February 7th. The play was held at the Sunbeams amphitheatre at 4:30 pm on both days. The price of the tickets was also reasonably affordable. It was difficult to find Sunbeams in the countless maze-like streets of Uttara, but when it did appear (or rather, we appeared in it), everyone was welcomed by the volunteers standing at the entrance. I crossed the hall and descended into the amhitheatre.

The musical started with a full house. The musical depicted the story of Sweeney Todd and his life. Narrated by Nawra Mehrin, the play started with Benjamin Barker returning and Mrs Lovett informing him that his wife Lucy had been raped by the Judge who had sentenced him, and she had later poisoned herself. His daughter, Mrs Lovett informs, was being brought up by the Judge. Benjamin Barker then rechristens himself as Sweeney Todd and swears revenge.

Sweeney Todd takes up the job of a barber and wins a competition of the best barber with Mr Pirelli. Mr Pirelli later comes to Sweeney and reveals himself as Benjamin Barker's assistant of years ago, intending to blackmail him but getting murdered by Sweeney instead.

In the meantime, Anthony, a sailor, is smitten by Johanna but the Judge wants to marry Johanna. The Judge is persuaded to go to Sweeney's shop for grooming himself. Sweeney is about to kill him when Anthony runs in and informs Johanna's whereabouts, thus exposing his plans to the Judge.
Mrs Lovett decides to use the bodies of Mr Todd's victims as ingredients in her meat pies.
Meanwhile, Mrs Lovett is dreaming of a future with Sweeney Todd while Anthony discovers that Johanna has been imprisoned in Fogg's Asylum.He poses as a wigmaker to rescue Johanna, but Todd sents the Judge a letter to lure him to his shop. Lovett locks Toby, (formelrly Pirelli's assitant but now working for Mrs Lovett), who suspects Sweeney's motives, while Beadle( the Judge's companion and accomplice in crime) waits outside to investigate the strange happenings in the house. When Sweeney arrives, he kills Beadle and Toby discovers Sweeney's doings.

In Fogg's asylum, in the meantime, Johanna kills the asylum's owner and escapes with Anthony. The beggar woman shown from the beginning of the play is now shown to warn Swenney about Mrs Lovett, but Sweeney kills her off and, when the Judge arrives, murders him too. Johanna has been watching all these, and when Sweeney notices, he attempts to kill her too, but she escapes.

When Todd arrives in the bakehouse, he sees the beggar woman clearly, and discovers that she is his wife, who he thought was dead. While he accuses Mrs Lovett of hiding the truth from him, she replies that she did all these because she loves him. Sweeney Todd then deceives her by saying that she is forgiven, and, when she is persuaded, kills her. Toby, ever faithful to Mrs Lovett, kills off Sweeney Todd, thus marking the end of the play. While there were a few minor technical difficulties, the play was riveting to say the least. It showcased some fantastic acting skills. Shaarif Azfar Shameem was fantastic as the tragic but manic figure of Sweeney Todd. I for one found his screams of fury particularly interesting. Naveen Abedin, the other central character, was also praiseworthy in her performance, putting in just the right expressions for the calculating, lovesick Mrs Lovett. Naureen Mazumdar as Johanna was cute while Mubarak Shamim as the smitten Anthony played his part as a lover very well. Abu Bakar as the Judge played the part of a villan well as well. The rest of the cast were excellent in their respective positions.The extensive sets were beautiful to look at, the music was great and so were the dialogues. The students of Sunbeams carried off the play smoothly with just the right amount of grace and acting prowess, and this is what made the evening so powerfully mesmerizing.



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