Kazim Ali is a poet, essayist, fiction writer, and translator. His books of poetry include The Far Mosque, The Fortieth Day, and Bright Felon. Ali is an associate professor of creative writing and comparative literature at Oberlin College and teaches in the Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. (Author photo by Brett Hall Jones)
Drunk on the sun and the sea, Kazim Ali’s new poems swoop linguistically but ground themselves vividly in the daily and real. Both imprisoned by endlessness and dependent on it for nurturing and care, in Sky Ward Ali goes further than ever before in sounding out the spaces between music and silence, between sky and ocean, between human and eternal. “Daily I wish stitched here to live,” moans his Prometheus, wondering what release from familiar bondage might actually portend. “So long liberation,” his Icarus sings as he plummets from the sky with desperation and grace, ready to unfeather and plunge into the everything-new. Whether in the extended poem-prayer to Alice Coltrane or in the “deleted scenes” and “alternate endings” to his critically acclaimed volume Bright Felon, or in the spirit-infused and multi-faceted lyrics he has become known for, Ali once again reinvents possibilities for the personal lyric and narrative.
“Beautiful, echoing poetry that finds ‘No return home but an eternity of transformation.’ Ali has a delicate touch and these poems leave us (for we are reluctant to leave them), playing in space.”
“Ali is one of the very few poets now writing dedicated to the enlargement (rather than the abandonment) of the lyric mode. With these new poems, he has opened a wide, new space for the music of what happens and shown us a worthy, if challenging, task for that music.”
Wesleyan University Press