The Far Mosque
Kazim Ali’s poetry debut, The Far Mosque (Alice James Books), draws on mystical traditions of the world’s religions in its urgent quest. These lyrics pursue enlightenment in long lines, elegant yet plainspoken, dark yet ecstatic, gently fragmented narratives. The poems travel by water and by night, seeking the Far Mosque and its overarching paradox: that when God and Self are one, an ascent into Heaven is a voyage within.
“Painterly minimalism, open-field technique and Near Eastern traditions together give Ali a neatly varied verbal palette for his smart, quietly attractive poems….his unresting intellect and acoustic talents make him a poet to watch.”
"Ali, author of the novel Quinn's Passage, reveals a rich and daring poetic voice in his first book of poetry. If one of the poet's tasks is to revive the mythological powers in things, Ali does so skillfully here."
"The young T.S. Eliot’s personae in “Gerontion” and other pre-Waste Land poems resonate in Ali’s work, but unlike the studies impersonality and austerity of Eliot, Ali has a vibrant and generous personality that lets one hear the inner music that makes us remember what it is to be human."
—Painted Bride Quarterly
"The Far Mosque by Kazim Ali is a book in which the author has managed to render into the English language the universal inner voice. These poems talk to the reader from the realm in which we are all human. What a poet to be able to define spirit using the American vocabulary! These poems, so very different from my own, speak clearly to me. What a gift!"
“Kazim Ali’s poems feel both ancient and entirely new, marrying the old Persian tradition of discontinuity to the rapid shifts of postmodern disjunction. This is a first collection of genuine originality and strange distinction, each poem a fragment of the deep notation of one ‘not listening to the music, but to the door.’”
“There is a metaphysical feel to this poetry that renders it fit for our globalized age, a geography underwritten by the loss of fixed abode, so that the journey, shifting in all its elements becomes all there is to hold onto. Any resting place reached must be renounced and a future shorn of permanence comes into being, a cliff climb, a strenuous hovering that permits sense to appear.”
—Meena Alexander in American Poet