Kazim Ali

Artist Statement

My work in poetry begins in sound and has its foundation in the notion that truth or revelation is revealed in abstraction. Though narrative may be present in my work and lyric as well, I am much more influenced by the subliminal which leads to the sublime—in the classical Arabic sense: geometry, calligraphy, algebra, architecture—and so I return always to the space of the fragment and the fracture, disjunctions in language and poetic form that move away from received meaning and move toward something darker, starker, more startling.

In this way the text is not something given or something received but is itself an encounter area. Poet and reader and universe meet in the poem—itself a constellation, a coalition, like “god” only a glyph, an anagram, not a named or fixed thing—and are made real.

While at Headlands

While at Headlands I will be working on a single long extended poem. For years I have listened to the singing of Sheila Chandra. Her voice accompanied me in yoga, in meditation, in sleeping, and in writing. Last summer I learned that Chandra has for years been afflicted by a neurological syndrome that renders her effectively mute. In the silencing of her voice and the still-echo of it in the world I began to heard a poem sounding itself out, ranging across my life in ways visual, aural, and verbal. I aim to track and trace it by singing myself, harmonizing with natural sounds and breathing and listening to the body inside.