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Agha Shahid Ali Agha Shahid Ali was born in New Delhi, India in 1949. He grew up in Kashmir, the son of a distinguished and highly educated family in Srinagar. He attended the University of Kashmir, the University of Delhi and, upon arriving in the United States in 1975, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Arizona. Though a Kashmiri Muslim, Ali is best known in the U.S. and identified himself as an American poet writing in English. The recipient of numerous fellowships and awards and a finalist for the National Book Award, he taught at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Princeton College and in the MFA program at Warren Wilson College. At the time of his death in 2001, Ali was noted as a poet uniquely able to blend multiple ethnic influences and ideas in both traditional forms and elegant free-verse. His poetry reflects his Hindu, Muslim, and Western heritages. In Contemporary Poets, critic Bruce King remarked that Ali’s poetry swirls around insecurity and “obsessions [with]…memory, death, history, family ancestors, nostalgia for a past he never knew, dreams, Hindu ceremonies, friendships, and self-consciousness about being a poet.” Agha Shahid Ali wrote poetry in both free verse and traditional forms, experimenting with verse forms such as the sestina and canzone. He is credited with introducing and popularizing the Ghazal form in American poetry. Ali’s poetry is autobiographical with allusions to exile and Ali’s identity as a Kashmiri. His work melds the landscapes of Kashmir and America, along with the conflicted emotions of exile, immigration and in his later works, loss, illness and mortality. Ali’s voice is lyrical, reflective and at the same time elegant, enhanced by the repetition of words, half rhymes and culturally specific imagery. As one navigates the complex terrain of his poems, they get a sense of Ali’s intricacy in language and thought, his ability to take emotions and frame them into focus, giving his poems...
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