Kazim Ali was born in the United Kingdom and has lived transnationally in the United States, Canada, India, France, and the Middle East. His newest books are a volume of three long poems entitled The Voice of Sheila Chandra (Alice James Books, 2020) and a memoir of his Canadian childhood, Northern Light: Power, Land, and the Memory of Water (Milkweed Editions, 2021). His books encompass multiple genres, including Sky Ward (Wesleyan University Press, 2013), winner of the Ohioana Book Award in Poetry and The Far Mosque (Alice James Books, 2005), winner of Alice James Books’ New England/New York Award, as well as the cross-genre texts Bright Felon (Wesleyan University Press, 2009) and Wind Instrument (Spork Press, 2014).
His novels include The Secret Room: A String Quartet (Kaya Press, 2017) and among his books of essays are the hybrid memoirs Silver Road: Essays, Maps & Calligraphies (Tupelo Press, 2018) and Fasting for Ramadan: Notes from a Spiritual Practice (Tupelo Press, 2011). He is also a 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. Ali was the Poem-a-Day Guest Editor For August, 2021, and is currently a Professor of Literature at the University of California, San Diego.