Photo of a man with mesh shirt, looking at camera sideways with arm raised to top of his head. On an orange background.Text reads: "2023, Kazim Ali, Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Asian American & Pacific Islander Month: Kazim Ali

May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Month! We are taking this opportunity to honor the achievements and contributions of poet Kazim Ali.

Photo Credit: Jesse Sutton-Hough

KAZIM ALI is a a poet, prose writer, and professor at the University of California, San Diego. He is also a former member of the Cocoon Theatre Modern Dance Company.

Born in the United Kingdom, Ali has lived transnationally in the United States, Canada, India, France, and the Middle East. Ali’s work encompasses multiple genres, including poetry (The Voice of Sheila Chandra, Inquisition, Sky WardThe Far Mosque, The Fortieth DayAll One’s Blue) and the cross-genre texts Bright Felon and Wind Instrument. His novels include The Secret Room: A String Quartet and among his books of essays are the hybrid memoir Silver Road: Essays, Maps & Calligraphies and Fasting for Ramadan: Notes from a Spiritual Practice, and a memoir of his Canadian childhood, Northern Light.

Ali is also an accomplished translator (of Marguerite Duras, Sohrab Sepehri, Ananda Devi, Mahmoud Chokrollahi and others) and an editor of several anthologies and books of criticism.After a career in public policy and organizing, Ali 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 at the University of California, San Diego.

Sukun: New and Selected Poems

Exquisitely paced, Sukun is testament to Kazim Ali’s distinctive accomplishment as our wandering, ever-questing poet. As one word, one sound, gives birth to another, so these poems trace the path from son to a finally accepting family, from body to spirit, from earth to cosmos.”

–Gillian Conoley, author of Notes from the Passenger

Kazim Ali’s forthcoming (September 2023) book, Sukun: New and Selected Poems features lyrical and expressive language, as well as its exploration of themes such as love, loss, and the search for meaning in a rapidly changing world. “Sukun” means serenity or calm, and a sukun is also a form of punctuation in Arabic orthography that denotes a pause over a consonant. This Sukun draws a generous selection from Ali’s six previous full-length collections, and includes 35 new poems. It allows us to trace Ali’s passions and concerns, and take the measure of his art: the close attention to the spiritual and the visceral, and the deep language play that is both musical and plain spoken.

Learn more info about Kazim Ali at his website,

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