poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Kazim Ali was born in the United Kingdom in 1971, then immigrated with his family to Canada, India, and then the United States. He attended the University at Albany, State University of New York, and graduated with a BA and MA in English. He received his MFA in creative writing from New York University in 2001.

Ali is the author of seven poetry collections: Inquisition (Wesleyan University Press, 2018); All One’s Blue: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins India, 2015); Sky Ward (Wesleyan University Press, 2013), winner of the 2014 Ohioana Book Award in Poetry; the cross-genre Bright Felon: Autobiography and Cities (Wesleyan University Press, 2009); The Fortieth Day (BOA Editions, 2008); and The Far Mosque (Alice James Books, 2005), winner of the Alice James Books New England/New York Award. He’s also the author of two novels, The Disappearance of Seth (Etruscan Press, 2009) and Quinn’s Passage (Blazevox Books, 2004), and three works of nonfiction: Silver Road: Essays, Maps & Calligraphies (Tupelo Press, 2018), Fasting for Ramadan: Notes from a Spiritual Practice (Tupelo Press, 2011), and Orange Alert (University of Michigan Press, 2010). Ali also translates works from French, Farsi, and Spanish.

In 2003, Ali cofounded Nightboat Books and served as its publisher from 2004 to 2007. He is currently an associate professor of creative writing and comparative literature at Oberlin College. He is the coeditor of the Poets on Poetry Series and the Under Discussion Series at the University of Michigan Press, as well as the associate editor of FIELD and the editor of Nightboat Books. He lives in Ohio.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

Inquisition (Wesleyan University Press, 2018)
All One’s Blue: New and Selected Poems (Harper Collins India, 2015)
Sky Ward (Wesleyan University Press, 2013)
Bright Felon: Autobiography and Cities (Wesleyan University Press, 2009)
The Fortieth Day (BOA Editions, 2008)
The Far Mosque (Alice James Books, 2005)

Fiction

The Disappearance of Seth (Etruscan Press, 2009)
Quinn’s Passage (Blazevox Books, 2004)

Nonfiction

Silver Road: Essays, Maps & Calligraphies (Tupelo Press, 2018)
Fasting for Ramadan: Notes from a Spiritual Practice (Tupelo Press, 2011)
Orange Alert (University of Michigan Press, 2010)

Road at Ache

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.

My telling tints the blue air
whiter, storm-white open ear

listening to what will unspool next,
clover, apple-trees, and to what

I owe the mysterious reciter arriving
driving out dry the flood month

spelling me in every direction, unclear but
swarming, given this my year to hear

Copyright © 2014 by Kazim Ali. Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database

Copyright © 2014 by Kazim Ali. Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database

Kazim Ali

Kazim Ali

Kazim Ali is the author of several poetry collections, including Inquisition (Wesleyan University Press, 2018), All One's Blue: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins India, 2015), and Sky Ward (Wesleyan University Press, 2013), winner of the 2014 Ohioana Book Award in Poetry.

by this poet

poem

     Begin with the dining room custodian at the university who smashed the stained glass window because we are actually going to change history


     Imagine then in the suburbs of Cleveland a sculpture of steel rings broken in halves but opening up away from the bullet-written history of the

poem
In the convicted evening I am a victor struck loose and restless,
creeping for the unlocked window.

The family inside at the dinner table is mine.

Listening to the escape story on the radio, my mother's hand freezes
in the air halfway to her mouth.

She realizes it's me they're talking about.

Lightning by
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