Silver Road: Essays, Maps and Calligraphies

Kazim Ali. Tupelo, $16.95 trade paper (115p) ISBN 978-1-936797-99-8
Poet Ali (The Far Mosque) combines smatterings of verse with memoir-tinged prose in an exploration of our spiritual and physical connections, or lack thereof, to the Earth and one another. He transforms readers into his companions on his travels around the globe and on an interior philosophical quest. Are humans essentially alone, the book asks, or does this essential loneliness connect us all? Ali pulls in scientific concepts, comparing the “intuitive leaps that quantum and particle physics make about the nature of reality” to those made by poets, and spiritual concepts such as the Islamic tenet of kismet, which he parses as the “net of infinite relationships” between people. Ali synthesizes imagery from poets such as Emily Dickinson and Amiri Baraka that examine feelings of loneliness and the effect of the world’s material conditions on personal relationships. The author also examines how his identity as a queer person of color has influenced his perception of connections between himself and others, especially to his conservative religious family. These connections, he explains, are weakened by the “rules of gender and sexuality” among other “codes” used to categorize people. His queerness “reveals better that latent quality of loneliness shared by any mortal thing.” Ali cleverly spurns convention for this excellent mixed-genre collection. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/30/2017
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