Jean Valentine: This-World Company
Kazim Ali and John Hoppenthaler, editors University of Michigan Press, 2012 Library of Congress PS3572.A39Z68 2012 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
Over the course of more than four decades, contemporary American poet Jean Valentine has written eleven books of stunning, spirit-inflected poetry. This collection of essays, assembled over several years by Kazim Ali and John Hoppenthaler, brings together twenty-six pieces on all stages of Valentine's career by a range of poets, scholars, and admirers.
Valentine's poetry has long been valued for its dreamlike qualities, its touches of the personal and the political, and its mesmerizing phrasing. Valentine is a National Book Award winner and was named the State Poet of New York in 2008. She has taught a number of popular workshops and has been awarded a Bunting Institute Fellowship, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, and the Shelley Memorial Prize.
Born and raised in Kashmir, Agha Shahid Ali (1949–2001) came to the United States in the mid-1970s to pursue graduate study in literature; by the mid-1980s, he had begun to establish himself as one of the most important American poets of the late 20th century.
Mad Heart Be Brave: On the Poetry of Agha Shahid Ali is the first comprehensive examination of all stages of his career, from his earliest work published in India but never reissued in the U.S., through his seven poetry volumes from American publishers, ultimately collected as The Veiled Suite. The essays, written by a range of poets and scholars, many of whom knew and studied with Ali, consider his early free verse poetry; his transition into writing more formalist poetry; his correspondence with poets Anthony Hecht and James Merrill; his literary engagement with the political realities of contemporary Kashmir; his teaching and mentorship of young poets; and Ali’s championing of the ghazal, a traditional Eastern poetic form, in English. Some essays have a predominantly scholarly focus, while others are more personal in their tone and content. All exhibit a deep appreciation for Ali’s life and work.
Contributors to this volume include Sejal Shah, Rita Banerjee, Amanda Golden, Ravi Shankar, Abin Chakraborty, Amy Newman, Christopher Merrill, Jason Schneiderman, Stephen Burt, Raza Ali Hassan, Syed Humayoun, Feroz Rather, Dur e Aziz Amna, Mihaela Moscaliuc, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Mahwash Shoaib, Shadab Zeest Hashmi, Grace Schulman, and Ada Limón. Mad Heart Be Brave closes with a long biographical sketch and elegy by Agha Shahid Ali’s friend Amitav Ghosh and a comprehensive bibliography assembled by scholar Patricia O’Neill with Reid Larson.
"Orange Alert is a poetic and yogic salvo across the bows of our defensive imperial posturing. Kazim Ali's essays leap deftly from homages to avant-garde artists (Yoko Ono, Agnes Martin, John Cage) to awestruck meditations on ancient architecture, from analyses of poets (Jane Cooper, Agha Shahid Ali, Mahmoud Darwish, Lucille Clifton) to twitter aphorisms. Orange Alert is a revelation, a salve, an invitation to breathe again."
---Philip Metres, Associate Professor, Department of English, John Carroll University
"With their delicacy of attention and bold range of subjects, Kazim Ali's essays hold many quiet surprises. In each art he searches for insight and craft---the virtues of his own patient writing."
---Susan Stewart, Chancellor, Academy of American Poets; and Professor, Princeton University
"Kazim Ali's essays, like his poems, are alive with curiosity and humanity. . . . Orange Alert makes a compelling case for the necessity of poetry on a planet wracked by war and devastation."
---Timothy Yu, Associate Professor, English and Asian American Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
A volume in the Poets on Poetry series, which collects critical works by contemporary poets, gathering together the articles, interviews, and book reviews by which they have articulated the poetics of a new generation.
Whether he is discussing the way cell phones have altered physical intimacy and introduced new verb forms, or the way Emily Dickinson's mysteries are more clearly revealed in French translation, Kazim Ali is at once clear and complex, rigorous and charming, accessible and demanding.
In Orange Alert, Ali discusses poets including Agha Shahid Ali, Jane Cooper, Bhanu Kapil, Semezdin Mehmedinovic, and Samuel Beckett. He considers painters Agnes Martin and Piet Mondrian, musicians Alice Coltrane and Yoko Ono, and philosophers Slavoj Ž iž ek and Jean Baudrillard. Ali links the poetic endeavor to such diverse texts as Moby-Dick, Battlestar Galactica, and Marilyn Buck's prison journals.
Ali discusses contemporary poetry in relation to other art forms and to contemporary television; film; and electronic media, including the Internet, YouTube, and Facebook.
He shines a light on the intersections between cultures in these essays on the craft of poetry, offering a hand to poets either geographically or metaphorically outside the mainstream of Western culture.
Kazim Ali is the author of two books of poetry, The Far Mosque and The Fortieth Day; two novels, Quinn's Passage and The Disappearance of Seth; and a memoir, Bright Felon: Autobiographyand Cities. He is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Oberlin College. He has been a regular columnist for American Poetry Review.
Kazim Ali uses a range of subjects—the politics of checkpoints at international borders; difficulties in translation; collaborations between poets and choreographers; and connections between poetry and landscape, or between biotechnology and the human body—to situate the individual human body into a larger global context, with all of its political and social implications. He finds in the quality of ecstatic utterance his passport to regions where reason and logic fail and the only knowledge is instinctual, in physical existence and breath. This collection includes Ali’s essays on topics such as Anne Carson’s translations of Euripides; the poetry and politics of Mahmoud Darwish; Josey Foo’s poetry/dance collaborations with choreographer Leah Stein; Olga Broumas’ collaboration with T. Begley; Jorie Graham’s complication of Kenneth Goldsmith’s theories; the postmodern spirituality of the 14th century Kashmiri mystic poet Lalla; translations of Homer, Mandelstam, Sappho, and Hafez; as well as the poet Reetika Vazirani’s practice of yoga.
“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