Poet Kazim Ali On Poetry In Everyday Life

Poet Kazim Ali talks about poetry's importance in every day life for National Poetry Month. He is a contributing editor for AWP Writers Chronicle and founding editor of the small press, Nightboat Books.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

April is National Poetry Month. And throughout the month, WEEKEND EDITION is speaking with younger poets about the importance of poetry in daily life. This morning, we hear from translator and poet Kazim Ali.

KAZIM ALI: Poetry, for me, is a way of living in the human body. The line of poetry teaches us about the length of breath, and the way energy moves through a poem teaches us about the way breath and blood move through the human body. This is a short poem dedicated to the jazz musician Alice Coltrane. It's called "Ocean Street." (Reading) Blue or white or very far away, every avenue a rain-stroked aisle through the wild wind's theater. Far to the bark, floating in the last row, yourself laddered to an avenue of sound. Last streak of white gold found in lines, along the branches or in the branches, are you a branch that tries from the bark to speak? Cold roar of the ocean, you cannot speak. How loud the blue-gray morning, how loud when you dissolved into sound, when you dissolved April in the souls, endless question. What was your body but a first uncertain answer?

SIMON: Kazim Ali reading his poem "Ocean Street."

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

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