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96 pagine
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Feb 13, 2018


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.

Feb 13, 2018

Informazioni sull'autore

Kazim Ali is the author of several volumes of poetry, novels, essay collections, and cross-genre texts. His collections of poetry include Sky Ward, winner of the Ohioana Book Award in Poetry, and The Far Mosque, winner of Alice James Books’ New England/New York Award. Ali is also an accomplished translator and the editor of several anthologies and books of criticism. He has taught at various colleges and universities, including Oberlin College, Davidson College, St. Mary's College of California, and Naropa University. He is currently a professor of Literature and Writing at the University of California, San Diego.

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Inquisition - Kazim Ali



And so it came my last day in the sunset, fog sluicing over me.

I turn east in the gaunt dawn and sue the blue dizzy.

At least in the unloving years I had my difference to wield.


In the earthquake days I could not hear you over the din or it might have been

the dinner bell but that’s odd

because I’m usually the one

cooking up if not dinner then

a plan to build new fault lines through the dangerous valley

I can’t give you an answer right now because I’m late for my resurrection,

the one where I step into my angel offices and fuck

the sun delirious.

That eclipse last week? Because of me

You’re welcome

The postman rattles up with your counteroffer and I’m off

to a yoga class avoiding your call yes like the plague

because son you can read

in the dark and I have no

hiding place left

We walk hand in hand down the hill

into the Castro

avoiding the nudist protest not because we are afraid but

because we already know all about this city, its engineered foundations,

its earthquake-proofed buildings, the sea walls

No tempest will catch us unaware

while we claim our share of

the province of penumbral affections —

You have no reason

to trust me but I swear I lie

down in this metal box as it thunders and looks

inside my brain. I am terrified nothing

is wrong because otherwise

how will I rewrite the maps unmoored

a deep sea a moor a cosmonaut

Who needs saving more

than the one who forgot

how the lazy cartographer mislabeled

his birthplace as Loss?

Riding the bus out to the end of the lines and back

I collect trash for art, oil spill, spent forest, the mind

is at work and everything is at stake — I demand

statehood for my states of mind, senators

for my failure, my disappointment, the slander

and my brain unmapped reveals no

explanation for danger the ground untamed

I make paintings of nothing and

stand before them like mirrors

I only recently became a man but I do

not want to let go of my boy-weakness

instead I want to meet God in heaven and in long psychotropic odes

have Him send me again digging in the dirt to unleash

tantric animal governors to lay down

the orgasmic law twice skewered and miserable

in the old photographs, miserable in my body, huddled

next to my mother, recently permed and aglow so unaware

of what is about to hit her — that I am the answer to Bhanu’s question:

Who is responsible for the suffering of your mother? and so sick

I considered that sickness

could bring us closer and Shahid and Allen in heaven

shake me by the shoulders three times because they want me

to know that this world is worth its

trembling. At the next table over a mother

tries to reconcile her bickering sons

I have no brother but the one

I invent has always got my back, he drowns

out the mullahs so my mother can finally hear me

In a different book Jesus

never suffered, never was flogged or died

went whole into heaven without passion

Shall I then deny myself passport through the stark places

unsalvageable, imagine it, the Mother

of Sorrows did never grieve in the new season

trees smell of semen and the tectonic plates

make their latest explosive move:

to transubstantiate my claim

by unraveling this city down to stone

Everyone I know wants to douse

the fire, flee the endless aftershocks,

untangle every vexing question

You owe me this witness

I owe you flames


Edged in petals I affix myself to the gate

at every appointed prayer hour

Seed pods scatter in silver dusk

Green cypresses minaret the sky

My disobedient body aspires and I

when music pierces inland hand in hand

devour this arbor of forgetting

and take one last shot at

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