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  • Published: 29 March 2022
  • ISBN: 9781784743536
  • Imprint: Chatto & Windus
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 112
  • RRP: $19.99

Pilgrim Bell




A profound exploration of faith and addiction and belonging from acclaimed American-Iranian poet Kaveh Akbar ('the sorcerer's sorcerer' Tommy Orange)

'Kaveh Akbar is the sorcerer's sorcerer, masterful in the way he wields language . . . Profound and singular, smart and sad and funny, but most of all truth's beauty and beauty's truth sung . . . We need Pilgrim Bell. We need Kaveh Akbar' TOMMY ORANGE

America, I warn you, if you invite me into your home
I will linger,

kissing my beloveds frankly,
pulling up radishes
and capping all your pens.

There are no good kings,
only burning palaces.

Lose me today, so much.
-from 'The Palace'

With formal virtuosity and ruthless precision, Kaveh Akbar'ssecond collection takes its readers on a spiritual journey of disavowal, fiercely attendant to the presence of divinity where artifacts of self and belonging have been shed. How does one recover from addiction without destroying the self-as-addict? And if living justly in a nation that would see them erased is, too, a kind of self-destruction, what does one do with the body's question, "what now shall I repair?" Here, Akbar responds with prayer as an act of devotion to dissonance - the infinite void of a loved one's absence, the indulgence of austerity, making a life as a Muslim in an Islamophobic nation - teasing the sacred out of silence and stillness.

Richly crafted and generous, Pilgrim Bell's linguistic rigour is tuned to the register of this moment and any moment. As the swinging soul crashes into its limits, against the atrocities of the American empire, and through a profoundly human capacity for cruelty and grace, these brilliant poems dare to exist in the empty space where song lives - resonant, revelatory, and holy.

  • Published: 29 March 2022
  • ISBN: 9781784743536
  • Imprint: Chatto & Windus
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 112
  • RRP: $19.99

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Praise for Pilgrim Bell

Kaveh Akbar is the sorcerer's sorcerer, masterful in the way he wields language . . . Profound and singular, smart and sad and funny, but most of all truth's beauty and beauty's truth sung . . . We need Pilgrim Bell. We need Kaveh Akbar

Tommy Orange

There is much that can be said about Kaveh Akbar's commitment to a sprawling and touchable image, or a line that breaks at the perfect moment. But what thrilled me most about this book was another commitment: the commitment to writing discomfort, or ugliness. Doing it well, and doing it without insisting upon beautification. Pilgrim Bell is a book that chooses honesty over beauty, which makes it a breathtaking text

Hanif Abdurraqib

Kaveh Akbar is truly a great writer, and his new collection Pilgrim Bell is a marvel. Like his previous work, it dazzles us. Akbar is an unlikely prophet - hilarious and irreverent and self-deprecating. Yet even nonbelievers will travel the circles of faith and hellscape, love and rebuke, through his captivating voice. He is incapable of setting down a line that's less than luminous. Pilgrim Bell is destined to become a classic

Mary Karr

Working at and along the outer edges of language, Pilgrim Bell calls us to attention and to attend to that which poetry and prayer share, while simultaneously demanding that we tend to the political, the social, the erotic - all that is quotidian and human. Persimmons and empire; saffron and refugee camps; exile, oleander, and the Rolling Stones-all the stuff of poetry. And of prayer. In Pilgrim Bell, the poet Kaveh Akbar, 'God's incarnate spit in the mud,' takes us down to the ground, to the prosaic, the dismissed and overlooked, the better to talk to the great Silence, bearer of many names including that of God

M. NourbeSe Philip

In this rich and moving collection, Akbar writes poems of contradiction and ambivalence centered on religious belief and ethnic and national identity. Evocative and polyphonic, surprising but never artificially shocking, Akbar's poems flit from the divine to the corporeal in the same breath . . . This impressive, thoughtful work shimmers with inventive syntax and spiritual profundity

Publishers Weekly

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