Making Words Dance: Hassan Massoudy

“So how does a poem become calligraphy? How does the word become a sign? The value of beauty in classic calligraphers, to transpose a poem, was the perfection of style evolved according to rules and codes, known and respected by all. What the calligrapher could add was more life to the line he drew. Today, I feel that the process has changed: I focus my attention on poetic images. Which word stands out, should be magnified? I count the straight letters then the curves so as to be able to create a rhythm by composing them. I dream about those letters. I imagine the word in different styles of calligraphy. I sketch a few lines, transforming the letters, I move them around, adjust them. At the same time, the image of the poet is floating in my mind. Hazy at first. Certain images reveal themselves sooner than others, sometimes the very first day, sometimes after long months. This slowness means I haven’t yet pierced the mystery of the image. So I have to persevere.” Hassan Massoudy, “Making Words Dance: A Calligrapher’s Testimony

You have to persevere, to be attentive, reread the poetic phrase,

look again at the images, imagine others. Begin again slowly,

very slowly. Instead of looking at the letters, observe

the light that moves around the calligraphic gestures. Go

on, again and again, struggle with the matter, with this

instrument-ink-paper trio, and the Word…This

search for the right form is like seeking a point of balance

where everything meet…

of damning the darkness, it’s better to light a little lantern. (Chinese

La vie passe, mystérieuse caravane, dérobe-lui sa minute de joie ! Omar Khayyam (vers 1048-1122)”

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