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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)

Sleep Door

a light knocking on the sleep door
like the sound of a rope striking the side of a boat

heard underwater
boats pulling up alongside each other

beneath the surface we rub up against each other
will we capsize in

the surge and silence
of waking from sleep

you are a lost canoe, navigating by me
I am the star map tonight

all the failed echoes
don't matter

the painted-over murals
don't matter

you can find your way to me 
by the faint star-lamp

we are a fleet now
our prows zeroing in

praying in the wind
to spin like haywire compasses

toward whichever direction
will have us

From The Fortieth Day by Kazim Ali. Copyright © 2008 by Kazim Ali. Reprinted by permission of B.O.A. Editions. All rights reserved.

From The Fortieth Day by Kazim Ali. Copyright © 2008 by Kazim Ali. Reprinted by permission of B.O.A. Editions. All rights reserved.

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
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

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.

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

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