During the 1982 air strikes on Beirut, Faiz Ahmed Faiz asked his friend Mahmoud Darwish "Why aren't the poets writing this war on the walls of the city?" Darwish responded, "Can't you see the walls falling down?" Queer, Muslim, American, Kazim Ali has always navigated complex intersections and interstices on order to make a life. In this scintillating mixture of lyrics, narrative, fragments, prose poem, and spoken word, he answers longstanding questions about the role of the poet or artist in times of political or social upheaval, although he answers under duress. An inquisition is dangerous, after all, especially to Muslims whose poetry and art and spiritual life has always depended not on the Western ideal of a known God or definitive text but on the concepts of abstraction, geometry, vertigo. "Someone always asks 'where are you from, '" Ali writes, "and I want to say 'a body is a body of matter flung/from the far corners of the universe and I am a patriot/of breath of sin of the endless clamor/out the window.'" Ali engages history, politics, and the dangerous regions of the uncharted heart in this visceral new collection.
About the Author
Poet, editor, and prose writer KAZIM ALI was born in the United Kingdom to Muslim parents of Indian descent. He received a BA and MA from the University of Albany-SUNY, and an MFA from New York University. Ali's poetry collections include The Far Mosque, which won Alice James Books' New England/New York Award, The Fortieth Day, and Sky Ward. Ali's poems, both lyric and musical, explore the intersection of faith and daily life. His prose includes The Disappearance of Seth and Bright Felon: Autobiography and Cities.