Silent Music

by: James Rumford

I thought this was a beautiful story told exquisitely by its form.

Silent music is the story of Ali, a boy living in Bagdad, and his study of Arabic calligraphy. As the story develops, we see that it is the lens through which Ali sees and relates to the world. The fluidity of his pen stroke embodies the energy and rhythm of his life. He sees the rising and falling momentum of his soccer game in the gliding of his pen just as he sees the cadence of his culture’s music in the flowing script. And like Yakat the thirteenth century calligrapher he reveres, Ali turns to calligraphy to deal with the war dividing his country.

Rumford’s patterned collages at times border on abstraction further strengthening the potent metaphor he builds throughout the story.


 Though the story’s content remains politically charged, Rumford delicately balances it with Ali’s discerning observations and his “glistening letters of rhythm and grace.”

"It's funny how easily my pen glides down the long sweeping hooks of the word 
HARB -- war...

how stubbornly it resists me when I make the difficult waves and slanted staff of 
SALAM -- peace..."

"how much I have to practice until this word flows 
freely from my pen."


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