Pilgrim Bell: Poems

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Kaveh Akbar’s second collection of poems, Pilgrim Bell, begins as a difficult read. The title piece, found in six variations across his work, presents a confusing and uncomfortable use of punctuation (not shared by the rest of the poems). That’s actually the first of the poet’s lessons to himself and the reader, a lesson beyond value or measure: Understanding the Other requires setting aside our expectations and finding the rhythm in what is given. The pilgrim who rings these bells to announce his presence is working to uncover and understand himself, to use Heinlein’s phrase, as a stranger in a strange land. The battle running throughout is over the decision to conform, to become the Other, or to remain true to one’s self and beliefs and thus also be seen as Other. There are no easy answers to this universal confrontation, and none are falsely offered.

Poetry as prayer. Poet as a pilgrim. Exploring the present, its new territory, in light of the past, where we come from, using the two to create a future we can live in. Akbar’s visions, and their words, provide a strong starting point.

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Author Kaveh Akbar
Star Count /5
Format Trade
Page Count 80 pages
Publisher Graywolf Press
Publish Date 03-Aug-2021
ISBN 9781644450598
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Issue August 2021
Category Poetry & Short Stories