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Renunciation

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“The Sailor cannot see the North—but knows the Needle can—”

The books were all torn apart, sliced along the spines
Light filled all the openings that she in her silence renounced

Still: her handwriting on the papers remembered us to her
The careful matching of the papers’ edges was a road back

One night Muhummad was borne aloft by a winged horse
Taken from the Near Mosque to the Far Mosque

Each book likens itself to lichen,
stitching softly to tree trunks, to rocks

what was given into the Prophet’s ears that night:
A changing of directions—now all the scattered tribes must pray:

Wonder well foundry, well sunborn, sundered and sound here
Well you be found here, foundered and found


Kazim Ali, "Renunciation" from The Far Mosque. Copyright © 2005 by Kazim Ali.  Reprinted by permission of Alice James Books.
Source: The Far Mosque (Alice James Books, 2005)
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Renunciation

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  • 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 (2005), which won Alice James Books’ New England/New York Award, The Fortieth Day (2008), and Sky Ward (2013). Ali’s poems, both lyric and musical, explore the intersection of faith and daily life. In a review of The Fortieth Day, Library Journal noted that Ali “continues his task of creating a rejuvenated language that longs to be liberated from the weight of daily routine and the power of dogmatic usage . . . writing in the tradition of Wallace Stevens, Ali is clearly a poet of ideas and symbols, yet his words remain living entities within the texture of the poem.”
    His prose includes The Disappearance of Seth (2009),...

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