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), Sky Ward (2013), and Inquisition (2018). 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), Bright Felon: Autobiography and Cities (2009), Resident Alien: On Border-crossing and the Undocumented Divine (2015), Anaïs Nin: An Unprofessional Study (Agape Editions, 2017), and the essay collection Silver Road: Essays, Maps & Calligraphies (2018). He is also the author of the novel Quinn’s Passage (2005), which was named one of the Best Books of 2005 by Chronogram magazine, and the experimental novel, written as a musical score, The Secret Room: A String Quartet (Kaya Press, 2017). He has translated Marguerite Duras’s Abahn Sabana David (2017) and When the Night Agrees to Speak to Me (2017) by Ananda Devi.
In 2003 Ali co-founded Nightboat Books and served as the press’s publisher until 2007. He has received an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council, and his poetry has been featured in Best American Poetry. Ali has been a regular columnist for the American Poetry Review and a contributing editor for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ Writer’s Chronicle. He is a former member of the Cocoon Theatre Modern Dance Company.
Ali has taught at Oberlin College and the low-residency Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. He is currently professor of Literature and Writing at the University of California, San Diego.