Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali, a former Hamilton College professor, will be honored through a series of events taking place at Hamilton on Sept. 19-20. The symposium, which is a part of The Beloved Witness Project, will celebrate his life as a renowned poet, teacher and influential author.

Events include a reception in Hamilton’s Burke Library and Digital Humanities Initiative center, a film about his home in Kashmir, and a symposium with guest speakers commenting on the relevance of Agha Shahid Ali’s life and works. The event will also include poetry readings by Colgate professor Peter Balakian and Kashmiri-British novelist Waheed Mirza. All events are free and open to the public.

Shahid, a National Book Award nominee, was a distinguished and well-respected poet in Kashmir and America. As a poet, he used language and innovative form to bring a global perspective to the struggles of his home in Kashmir, a region of India.

Through his five major collections of poetry, Shahid established poetry’s power in conveying important global conflicts. His final collection, Rooms are Never Finished, was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2001. Shahid received a Ph.D. in English from Pennsylvania State University and also held teaching positions at nine universities and colleges in India and the United States. He taught at Hamilton from 1987 to 1983.  Shahid died of brain cancer in 2001.

The sponsor of the event, The Beloved Witness Project at Hamilton College, is a Mellon Foundation-funded digital archive of readings, personal documents and manuscripts of Agha Shahid. Its creation was possible through generous donations from Shahid’s brothers and sisters and is dedicated to his memory.

The symposium is also sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Faculty, the Digital Humanities Initiative, the English and Creative Writing Fund for International Writers, the Burke Library and Information Technology Services, as well as the Asian Studies Department.

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