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Agha Shahid Ali

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“Where art thou?” Kashmir needs a Shahid tonight “O, please free her with poesy,” pleads a Shahid tonight A red path marks the entrance to my home “Come on in, it’s okay,” greets a Shahid tonight There will be silent-shouting words, echoes of words Yet only one bullet makes a Shahid into a shaheed tonight It’s time to give a tongue of fire to shackles All mother’s breastfeed a Shahid tonight Where do these loud, lurid words come from, Ruhan, Does the spirit of an Agha lead a Shahid tonight? * For Agha Shahid Ali on his birthday, posthumously.

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My ancestor, a man of Himalayan snow, came to Kashmir from Samarkand, carrying a bag of whale bones: heirlooms from sea funerals. His skeleton carved from glaciers, his breath arctic, he froze women in his embrace. His wife thawed into stony water, her old age a clear evaporation. This heirloom, his skeleton under my skin, passed from son to grandson, generations of snowmen on my back. They tap every year on my window, their voices hushed to ice. No, they won’t let me out of winter, and I’ve promised myself, even if I’m the last snowman, that I’ll ride into

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Jacki Lyden talks with Agha Shahid Ali for NPR, ‘All Things Considered’ at Izhar Patkin’s Studio, 28 July 2001, New York In ‘The Ghat of the Only World: Agha Shahid Ali in Brooklyn,’ his obituary to Agha Shahid Ali, novelist Amitav Ghosh mentions a conversation between him and the poet: I once remarked to Shahid that he was the closest that Kashmir had to a national poet. He shot back: “A national poet, maybe. But not a nationalist poet; please not that.” In many ways, Ali’s poetry epitomizes concerns that are more valid than ever today, twelve years after his death

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By Meghna Mudaliar There seems to be an intrinsic relationship between geography and culture in Ali’s A Nostalgist’s Map of America (1991) and Ondaatje’s The English Patient (1992) that suggests that it is only in the landscape of the individual’s memory and experience that culture may be located and validated. Both writers seem to craft subtextualised landscapes through narratologies that begin as explorations of subjective impressions of geographical spaces, and are transformed into decentralised spaces in which unofficial and personal histories are ‘mapped’ through correlations between the psychological and empirical landscapes that represent individual journeys. The idea of cartography is

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Agha Shahid Ali, around 1998 (Image from the interview for the ‘Poets of New England’ series with William Moebius) By Steffen Horstmann Forever   Do you seek, like Jonah, to be elusive forever– To live like an ascetic, reclusive forever?   You traversed deserts & abide in a mirage, Within the shade of a fig & olive forever.   The temple scribe said you were fated to stray In radiant absence, as wind lisps its narrative forever.   Sand rises around you, a volatile vacuum–O escape To the mind’s habitable star, fugitive forever.   In a vision you emerge from

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Agha Shahid Ali, around 1998 (Image from the interview for the ‘Poets of New England’ series with William Moebius) If There Is a Poet, It Is This, It Is This The passing away of Agha Shahid Ali in 2001 was a collective loss to Kashmir- the most eloquent Kashmiri-English poet, a writer of unmatched elegance and virtuosity, a chronicler of pain- his poetry is the very stuff of beauty, loss and redemption. His death deprived Kashmir of one of its most potent cultural voices, a voice that would have done more good than any Track 1 or Track 11 effort.

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Angels by Agha Shahid Ali In this video, poet Kerry O’Keefe gives an exquisite reading of Angels- a ghazal written by Kashmiri-American poet, Agha Shahid Ali. She is reading at Ali’s gravesite, in Northampton, MA. [Uploaded by Walter Skold on Vimeo.]   Snowmen by Agha Shahid Ali This is an animated poem read by Carl Hancock Rux. Part of the Poetry Everywhere series, produced by the Poetry Foundation in association with docUWM at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Animation by Kyle Jenkins. [Uploaded by PoetryFoundation on YouTube] Thumbnail: Screen shot from Dwaipayan Banerjee’s short documentary ‘The Beloved Witness’ on the life

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Agha Shahid Ali Tomorrow is December 8, 2012. Eleven years ago on the same day one of the finest English poets, Agha Shahid Ali passed away. Shahid was a Kashmiri-American poet. He wrote, “[…] and I follow him through blood on the road and hundreds of pairs of shoes the mourners left behind, as they ran from the funeral, victims of the firing. From windows we hear grieving mothers, and snow begins to fall on us, like ash.” The monument of poetry he build remains there forever. Written words are never lost. They remain to live forever. Writing is such

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I grew up in Kashmir. It is a place where there are different shades to every little possible thing- such beautiful seasons, tears, laughter, untold stories, told stories which can always told in a different colour. So I would say, being a Kashmiri, poetry comes naturally, it is like a child’s curiosity, first to know everything then to convey the same in a cheerful childish way. Kashmir makes one to develop different kind of prisms to imbibe things. I used to read a lot of novels in school, mostly of Paulo Coehlo, Robin Sharma and Dan Brown. Poetry caught my

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By Ather Zia Our wounds are labeled forgettable, Shahid Our life before death is imperceptible, Shahid Billboards proclaim, Kashmir: A Paradise God has a reason to be chimerical, Shahid Memory threads tied to wooden roses at Khankah Even simple prayers are incomprehensible, Shahid At Naseem Bagh, your presence was ephemeral Now, your absence is a spectacle, Shahid Our laments are lost, our yearnings are empty Grief— the source of all that is poetical, Shahid. Fear has abandoned us; Hope has embraced us Yours are the best words in our arsenal, Shahid Your last illegible scrawl, an emblem of your name

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