- Bachelor of Arts, SUNY at Albany, 1993
- Master of Arts, SUNY at Albany, 1995
- Master of Fine Arts, New York University, 2001
Kazim Ali is the author of four books of poetry, including The Far Mosque (Alice James Books), The Fortieth Day (BOA Editions), the cross-genre poetic memoir Bright Felon: Autobiography and Cities and Sky Ward (both from Wesleyan University Press) that won the Ohiona Award in Poetry, two novels Quinn's Passage (BlazeVox Books), named one of the Best Books of 2005 by Chronogram, and The Disappearance of Seth (Etruscan Press) and two volumes of nonfiction, Orange Alert: Essays on Poetry, Art and the Architecture of Silence (University of Michigan Press) and Fasting for Ramadan: Notes from a Spiritual Practice (Tupelo Press). He has translated three volumes, L'Amour, a novel by Marguerite Duras (Open Letter) and Water's Footfall (Omnidawn) and Oasis of Now: Selected Poems (BOA Editions) both by Iranian poet Sohrab Sepehri.
Ali's poetry has appeared in many national journals including American Poetry Review, Boston Review,Barrow Street, jubilat, Hayden's Ferry Review, The Iowa Review, Colorado Review, and New Orleans Review. An essay on his work by Meena Alexander appeared in American Poet. Ali's essays on poetry and poetics have appeared widely, and from 2007-2009 he wrote a regular column for American Poetry Review.
In 2003 Ali co-founded the independent press Nightboat Books and served as its publisher from 2004-2007. Under his leadership Nightboat Books published numerous critically acclaimed books, including Radical Love: 5 Novels by Fanny Howe,The Truant Lover by Juliet Patterson, Envelope of Night: Selected and Uncollected Poems 1966-1990 by Michael Burkard and a reissue of Dura by Myung Mi Kim. He continues to serve as an editor with the press. He is co-editor of both the Poets on Poetry Series and the Under Discussion Series, both housed at the University of Michigan Press and serves as associate editor of the literary journal FIELD.
In addition to his work at Oberlin College, Ali has also been a visiting writer or faculty member at various retreats including the Frost Place Festival of Poetry, the Kundiman Retreat for Asian American Poets, and the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets and in MFA programs including Naropa University, Antioch University Los Angeles, Murray State University, University of Southern Maine, and the University of Michigan.