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Bright Felon: Autobiography and Cities (Wesleyan Poetry Series) Hardcover – September 1, 2009

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Product Details

  • Series: Wesleyan Poetry Series
  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Wesleyan; First Edition edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081956916X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0819569165
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,677,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. What do I really want to share with people? Not of my methods but of myself? asks Ali in his third collection, a captivating song of himself that passionately excavates the interdependence between geography and identity. Ali, who is also a novelist, presents a candid history of his wandering life—I have lived in six cities in five years— which has perpetually taken place by a river (the Hudson, Nile or Seine), always carrying with him a desire to uncover the hidden aspects of a city and, in turn, his multitudinous self (Under any city other cities exist. Under any body other bodies). Ali recounts his journey backward in lists of images and thoughts, and the book's 15 sections are each devoted to a particular city, maintaining a strong narrative arc throughout, crossing genre lines to read as a kind of literary-journalistic, autobiographical text. Ali knows the power of facts; he writes of his time in New York City: I was in exile, living out of a suitcase in a completely empty apartment in the deserted money district. This is a fascinating work, brimming with bold meditations on religion, sexuality and what it means to live the life of an artist. (Sept.)
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“Ali, journeying backwards through autobiography, writes an elegy for lost love and unrequited faith—another kind of exile.”—Lori Tsang, MultiCultural Review

“The pleasure of reading Bright Felon derives in large part from its invitation to us to give ourselves over to the music of language.”—Lee Sharkey, Beloit Poetry Journal

“The speed and energy of this language, and its confident movement, are undeniable and compelling….There is a lovely plenitude in the embroidery woven out of these journeys, inner and outer…the rich and nuanced tracings of contemporary experience Ali offers here are reward enough.”—Jeff Gundy, The Georgia Review

“Bright Felon is a troubling work of unrelieved sadness and relentless self-examination and yet, for all that, it is also a monument to a yearning for oblivion, a desire so unimpeachable at its center it reminds us that there are no happy endings—only intervals of relief.”—Tyrone Williams, The Volta

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By thing two on December 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is stream of consciousness poetry, and is Ali's very personal struggle with life, family, culture, and sexual orientation alongside his description of the cities he's either lived in or visited. It's original, and was exciting to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Michael Albert on March 12, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What a superb book. Kazim Ali obviously has all the elements of his craft under control, to the point that he can create a new form, an new rhetoric to tell the story he wants to tell, probing memory the way it happens: backwards from "now." It really works well. This was a riveting book. I love the way he strikes a sort of passionate objectivity--everything/everyone is real and meaningful to him, yet he finds a way to write about them without resorting to "poetic" emotionalism. He catches the modern conundrum: so much information, so much experience, so many cultures, so many kinds of love, of family, so many loyalties, and the almost unbearable prerogative to walk into or away from any of it. And in that context we still are compelled to define ourselves, and in that context, he does. As I said, a super book. A tremendous book.
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More About the Author

Kazim Ali was born in the UK to parents of Indian descent. With his family he emigrated to Canada and then the US where he was raised in an Islamic household. He then attended the University at Albany, receiving a BA and an MA in English. Following his graduation, Kazim worked full time as an organizer for a state-wide organization devoted to advocating for greater access to public higher education, funding for the SUNY system, and increased need-based grant aid for students. Following four years of full time organizing and political activity, Kazim returned to his home in the Western New York area and taught in the English Department of Monroe Community College and served as a writer-in-residence at the Just Buffalo Literary Center. Kazim Ali's work has been published in various national journals including jubilat, Barrow Street, The American Poetry Review, and in the Best American Poetry 2007. His first book of poetry, The Far Mosque,' was published by Alice James Books in 2005. Kazim is also the author of a novel, Quinn's Passage,' published by BlazeVox Books. He is founding editor of Nightboat Books.

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