The Asian American Writers’ Workshop is thrilled to celebrate the launch of Kazim Ali’s newest poetry collection, The Voice of Sheila Chandra. Following a reading from Ali’s innovative and musical new collection, he will be joined in conversation by Sheila Chandra and Rajiv Mohabir to discuss sound, silence, and embodied art-making practice, as they reflect on Ali’s poetry, Chandra’s music, and Mohabir’s poetry and translation.
This event will be live-streamed on Zoom, and CART captions will be available. The first 100 RSVPs will receive access to the Zoom link via email. The event will also be live streamed on the Asian American Writers’ Workshop YouTube page for the greater public.
Kazim Ali was born in the United Kingdom and has lived transnationally in the United States, Canada, India, France, and the Middle East. His books encompass multiple genres, including the volumes of poetry Inquisition, Sky Ward, winner of the Ohioana Book Award in Poetry; The Far Mosque, winner of Alice James Books’ New England/New York Award; The Fortieth Day; All One’s Blue; and the cross-genre texts Bright Felon and Wind Instrument. His novels include the recently published The Secret Room: A String Quartet and among his books of essays are the hybrid memoir Silver Road: Essays, Maps & Calligraphies and Fasting for Ramadan: Notes from a Spiritual Practice. He is also an accomplished 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. He is currently a Professor of Literature at the University of California, San Diego. His newest books are a volume of three long poems entitled The Voice of Sheila Chandra and a memoir of his Canadian childhood, Northern Light.
Sheila Chandra made some of the most beautiful and innovative recordings in the World Music category − beginning with her band Monsoon’s 1982, ground-breaking Asian Fusion, Top Ten hit around the world, ‘Ever So Lonely’ − until voice problems forced her to retire in 2010. Since then, in an unlikely twist, she’s gone on to become a best-selling author with Banish Clutter Forever (2010) outlining her own system for home organizing, which she says makes it possible to “pretty much, never tidy up again”. She also began mentoring the (then homeless) street artist Stik in 2008, writing a version of ‘Organizing Your Creative Career’ just for him. Stik has gone on to become one of the most famous and collectible street artists in the world. A revised edition containing a new chapter was published in 2020.
Rajiv Mohabir is the author of The Cowherd’s Son (Tupelo Press 2017, winner of the 2015 Kundiman Prize; Eric Hoffer Honorable Mention 2018) and The Taxidermist’s Cut (Four Way Books 2016, winner of the Four Way Books Intro to Poetry Prize, Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry in 2017), and translator of I Even Regret Night: Holi Songs of Demerara (1916) (Kaya Press 2019) which received a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant Award. His memoir just won Restless Books’ New Immigrant Writing Prize and is forthcoming 2021. Currently he is an Assistant Professor of poetry in the MFA program at Emerson College, translations editor at Waxwing Journal.