The Veiled Suite collects the life-s work of Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali. Drawing from a remarkable range of sources that span continents and cultures, Ali displays an -imagination . . . supple and cultivated enough to draw on different cultures simultaneously- (New York Times Book Review). This definitive volume, Ali-s shining legacy, is a testament to the revolutionary voice that introduced the form of the ghazal to the American poetic lexicon-and brought the physical and emotional landscape of to an audience of devoted readers.
Beginning with the impassioned, never-before-published title poem, written after a dream related to Ali-s illness, The Veiled Suite moves through themes of mourning and loss, culminating in the ghazals of Call Me Ishmael Tonight. In one of his early poems, -Postcard from - Ali reflects on the four-by-six-inch, -overexposed- nature of his homeland-s postcard existence. A poignant nostalgia for Kashmir pervades his work, but it is tinged with rage and despair in political poems that address the country-s struggles; -Hans Christian Ostro- an homage to the Norwegian hostage killed in Kashmir in 1995, is one such poem: -a beggar, ears pressed to the metal cry, / will keep waiting on a ghost platform, / holding back his tears, waving every train / Goodbye and Goodbye.-
Ali also maps the geographical and psychological terrain of his second home in A Nostalgist-s Map of America, acting as a cartographer and stargazer as he meditates on themes of journey and exile, myth and politics, history and loss. And in -Lenox Hill- the first poem in Rooms Are Never Finished (a finalist for the National Book Award in 2001), loss is felt deeply and truthfully as Ali mourns the death of his mother: - . . But there were times, Mother, / while you slept, that I prayed, -Saints, let her die.- / Not, I swear by you, that I wished you to die / but to save you as you were, young, in song in . .
A seminal work of beauty and cultural significance, The Veiled Suite pays tribute to the work of a beloved and much-missed member of the literary community. Ali died in December of 2001.
About The Author
Agha Shahid Ali was born on February 4, 1949, in New Delhi and grew up in Kashmir. He obtained an MA from the University of Delhi, an MA and PhD from Penn State, and an MFA from the University of Arizona. He began his academic career in 1987 at Hamilton College in New York and moved to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 1993, where he served as director of the MFA Creative Writing program. In 1999 he became professor of English and creative writing at the University of Utah.
He also taught at the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and was a visiting professor at Princeton University and in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at New York University.
Ali was awarded Guggenheim and Ingram-Merrill Fellowships and a Pushcart Prize, and his collection Rooms Are Never Finished was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2001. Agha Shahid Ali died on December 8, 2001, in Amherst, Massachusetts