ISBN-10: 0819500712
ISBN-13: 9780819500717
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
Publish Date: 09/05/2023
Dimensions: 8.96" L, 6.29" W, 0.94" H

Sukun: New and Selected Poems


Price: $28.00


New and selected poems from celebrated poet Kazim Ali

Kazim Ali is a poet, novelist, and essayist whose work explores themes of identity, migration, and the intersections of cultural and spiritual traditions. His poetry is known for its 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 Kazim’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.

[sample poem]

The Fifth Planet

Come, early summer in the mountains, and come, strawberry moon,
and carry me softly in the silver canoe on wires to the summit,
where in that way of late night useless talk, the bright dark asks me,
“What is the thing you are most afraid of?” and I already know
which lie I will tell.

There were six of us huddled there in the cold, leaning on the rocks
lingering in the dark where I do not like to linger, looking up at the
sharp round pinnacle of light discussing what shapes we saw–rabbit,
man, goddess–but that brightness for me was haunted by no thing,
no shadow at all in the lumens.

What am I, what am I, I kept throwing out to the hustling silence.
No light comes from the moon, he’s just got good positioning
and I suppose that’s the answer, that’s what I’m most afraid of,
that I’m a mirror, that I have no light of my own, that I hang in empty space
in faithful orbit around a god or father

neither of Whom will ever see me whole. I keep squinting to try to see Jupiter
which the newspaper said would be found near the moon but
it’s nowhere, they must have lied. Or like god, there is too much
reflection, headsplitting and profane, scraping up every shadow,
too much light for anyone to see.

Read More

"A comprehensive and stunningly beautiful collection of poems that explore the self in the world often through some form of remove, such as travel or being in a new place. The poems offer to lift us out of the mundane and into a sacred space or heightened brightness."–Judy Halebsky, author of Spring and a Thousand Years (Unabridged)

"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

"A compilation from the heart and hand of an intense lyricist explores questions of queer love, spirituality, and the idea of home. Celebratory and poignant, vulnerable and wise, Ali works to honor a transnational lineage while also redrawing a genderless line of pilgrim prophet seekers."–Soham Patel, author of all one in the end–/water

More Reviews


ISBN-10: 0819500712
ISBN-13: 9780819500717
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
Publish Date: 09/05/2023
Dimensions: 8.96" L, 6.29" W, 0.94" H
Skip to content