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About this poet

Born in the UK to parents of Indian descent, Kazim Ali emigrated with his family to Canada and then the United States, where he was raised in an Islamic household. He attended SUNY Albany, receiving a BA in 1993 and an MA in 1995. He received an MFA from New York University in 2001. After graduating, Ali worked as an organizer for a statewide organization advocating greater access to public higher education, funding for the SUNY system, and increased need-based grant aid for students.

His first collection of poetry, The Far Mosque (Alice James Books, 2005), won the Alice James Books New England/New York Award. He is also the author of The Fortieth Day (BOA Editions, 2008), Bright Felon (Wesleyan, 2009) and two novels, Quinn's Passage (Blazevox Books, 2004), and The Disappearance of Seth (Etruscan Press, 2009). His critical writings have been collected Orange Alert (University of Michigan Press, 2010) and Fasting for Ramadan (Tupelo Press, 2011).

Ali was a writer-in-residence at the Just Buffalo Literary Center and is co-founder and publisher of the small press Nightboat Books. He has taught in the English Department of Monroe Community College and was an assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.

Currently, he is an assistant professor of Creative Writing at Oberlin College and teaches in the low-residency MFA program at the University of Southern Maine.

Hymn

My father's silence I cannot brook. By now he must know I live and well.

My heart is nickel, unearthed and sent. We are a manmade catastrophe.

Unable to forgive, deeply mine this earthly light that swells sickly inside.

Like wind I drift westward and profane when the doors of ice slide open.

While he prays my father swallows the sickle moon, its bone sharp path spent.

Preyed upon by calendars of stone unbound the nickel of the mountain in streams.

Mine this awful empty night. Mine this unchiming bell, his unanswered prayers.

Mine the rain-filled sandals, the road out of town. Like a wind unbound this shining river mine.

Copyright © 2012 by Kazim Ali. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2012 by Kazim Ali. Used with permission of the author.

Kazim Ali

Kazim Ali

His first collection of poetry, The Far Mosque (Alice James Books, 2005), won the Alice James Books New England/New York Award

by this poet

poem

Do strangers make you human

Science fiction visiting bodies as cold fact

What unknown numbers govern our genes or phones

A constant thrum from outer space

Snow makes a sound in sand

You are seen from far far above

Unheard and vanished

bodies dismember to dirt

Hardly

2
poem

Paradise lies beneath the feet of your mother. A verse I've heard recited so frequently I do not know if it is scripture or hadith.

Hadith, meaning traditions of the prophet, are always accompanied by a careful oral lineage of who said what to whom, and who heard who say they heard what. Usually

poem

I was whispered along the road at Ache
toward the sun-puddled gate

the sum of yearning for
whatever makes you emptier

better weather, the absence of bees
but the year tells it better, all the hives

unraveling into summer, little mouths
flooding the May air to stillness.