English-language Sufi poetry: The Book of Clouds by Oludamini Ogunnaike


The Book of Clouds is a collection of English-language Sufi poetry. This compilation of ghazals, quatrains, and qasidas praises and describes Divine love, loss, insight, gratitude, and mystery, bringing the forms, themes, and images of classical Islamicate poetry into English verse. Seeking to demonstrate the unique power of this tradition of thinking and speaking lyrically: to sing what can not be said but must be expressed, these poems attempt to express many of the insights and teachings of the Sufi tradition in one of the main forms of its expression: moving lyrical poetry. Sufism is concerned with forms of knowledge and realization that exceed prosaic description, and thus its main linguistic expressions have been and continue to be literary and poetic.

“Ogunnaike’s latest anthology takes readers on a deeply personal journey through words, worlds, and wisdom, and ultimately beyond them. At a time in which so many artists are preoccupied with self-expression, it is a pleasure to find one who has somehow managed to express selflessness so elegantly. Each poem is a confluence of different voices, cultures, dimensions, emotions, and epochs all flowing into one shoreless floorless ocean of Love. Read this
book if you wish to swim in that ocean, but know that the most delightful drowning is inevitable.”

- Imam Adeyinka Muhammad Mendes, author of The Spirits of Black Folk: Sages Through the Ages

Oludamini Ogunnaike is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia and the author of “Deep Knowledge: Ways of Knowing in Tijani Sufism and Ifa”, and “Poetry in Praise of Prophetic Perfection: West African Madih Poetry and its Precedents”. This is his first published book of original poetry.

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