Excerpt Wednesday – Live, Die: A Ghazal – Muske-Dukes

LiveDie_Ghazal2Cheered on by a chorus of voices as you die,
“Go now! Go to the light!” Still, Don’t die!

– Carol Muske-Dukes

I flew recently to attend a friend’s wedding and air travel is my excuse to stock up on physical copies of magazines and newspapers and do nothing but read them cover to cover while doing all the waiting that one does at an airport. In this pursuit, I wound up with a copy of T: The New York Times Style Magazine and was delighted to find their “A Picture and A Poem” feature: a previously unpublished poem with a purposefully commissioned piece of art. This week’s pairing was the poem Live, Die: A Ghazal by Carol Muske-Dukes with a sculpture by Nari Ward. I loved the poem and so I wanted to see what my response as an artist would be to her words. I love the contrast between my piece and Ms. Ward’s and how we gathered the words into the art so differently. Drawing (ink on paper) by me. To read the complete poem and view the sculpture together, click here.




  1. This poem feels very personal to me. My mother died at home under the care of hospice, and my father died in a nursing home in hospice. This lingering at the time of death feels like the dying person is reconciling their internal business before they’re ready. Quite moving. And your response to the poem reflects this, the light possibly leaving through the breath. The fish, the thousands of things that need to be reconciled.


    1. Thank you so much, Jilanne – and thank you for sharing your experience too. I have not had someone close to me die in hospice care, but the poem really resonated with the few experiences I have had. There was this tension between the letting go and holding on, between relief and suffering…I saw the fish as I read the poem and I decided to go with it. Fish are such rich symbols, I love your interpretation, and Koi often represent longevity as well.

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    1. Thank you, Kerfe! I’m a digital subscriber to the Times, and for the most part I’m happy with that – but getting a physical copy of the Style Magazine and spending some quality time with this art and poem collaboration was such a treat!

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    1. Thank you so much, Nina! I was just reading about how R. Crumb traded several of his sketchbooks for a house in the South of France, where he now lives. Not bad!


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