Poetry is Dangerous: An Essay by Kazim Ali

A reading of the essay “Poetry is Dangerous” by Kazim Ali from ORANGE ALERT: ESSAYS ON POETRY, ART AND THE ARCHITECTURE OF SILENCE (University of Michigan 2010).

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, and The Fortieth Day (2008). 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) and Bright Felon: Autobiography and Cities (2009), as well as the novel Quinn’s Passage (2005), which was named one of the Best Books of 2005 by Chronogram magazine.

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 lives in Oberlin, Ohio.

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