BOA Editions, Ltd., 2008
80 pages, 6 x 9"
$16.00, Paperback, 978-1-934414-04-0
From the publisher: Throughout the four sections of The Fortieth Day, a supplicant writes letter after letter that is unanswered, an old man pauses on the street unsure of which direction lies his home, silence deafens, and prayers of various orthodox and unorthodox kinds are constructed and offered.
"In his second book, The Fortieth Day, Kazim Ali has created a cross between a poetry collection and a sacred text...Ali's lyrics are crafted with a controlled, delicate quality that never stops questioning, never stops teaching, never stops astounding."
— American Poet
"Ali's second collection continues the project he began in his debut, The Far Mosque (2005). Through these associative and sometimes disjunctive lyrics, Ali explores Eastern religions—Islam, Hinduism—as well as his relationship with a more personalized God who represents the unknown while still providing a sense of belonging in the world. In Afternoon Prayer, Ali asks, God, a curt question or a curtain. In the opening, Lostness, Ali describes his particular notion of deity—dear God of blankness I pray to dear unerasable—and then asks, how could I live without You if I were ever given answers; later, God is equated with the sparseness of daily life: dear afternoon God dear evening God my lonely world. Sometimes Ali arrives at mysterious, striking assertions: A person is only a metaphor for the place he wants to go; elsewhere, one finds well-rendered images: the ocean will receive itself / opening its green pages to glass and sand. A lack of mooring in the physical world makes some poems a bit slight. Nonetheless, Ali eloquently draws attention to the strange, dislocating home we make in human experience, in which you are being whipped // around the galaxy's center / at 25 million miles a second."
— Publisher's Weekly
"Ali continues his task of creating a rejuvinated language that longs to be liberated from the weight of daily routine and the power of dogmatic usage...writing in the tradition of Wallace Stevens, Ali is clearly the poet of ideas and symbols, yet his words remain living entities within the texture of the poem...The result is a new and ambitious poetry that should be considered for all poetry collections."
"These poems by Kazim Ali are gorgeous, each phrase a breath of prayer, the words presented as humble offerings, each one a deep bow."