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Three Graywolf Titles Longlisted for the National Book Awards: Abundance by Jakob Guanzon for Fiction, The Twilight Zone by Nona Fernández for Translated Literature, and The Wild Fox of Yemen by Threa Almontaser for Poetry

Book Title

Pilgrim Bell

Author 1
Kaveh Akbar
Poem Excerpt
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’s second 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 rigor 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.

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6.5 x 9
Kaveh Akbar’s exquisite, highly anticipated follow-up to Calling a Wolf a Wolf

About the Author

Kaveh  Akbar
Credit: Paige Lewis
Kaveh Akbar is the author of Pilgrim Bell and Calling a Wolf a Wolf, and has received honors such as a Levis Reading Prize and multiple Pushcart Prizes. Born in Tehran, Iran, he teaches at Purdue University and in low-residency programs at Warren Wilson and Randolph Colleges.
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Upcoming Events

Kaveh Akbar reading and in conversation about PILGRIM BELL as part of the Live Wire with Luke Burbank

Live Wire Radio in Portland, ORview map
With Tom Scharpling and Mohand Elshieky. Held at the Alberta Rose Theatre (3000 Northeast Alberta Street in Portland). Doors open at 6:30 PM, show starts at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $30 for general admission and $45 for preferred seating. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets

Kaveh Akbar reading and in conversation about PILGRIM BELL, presented by Seattle Arts and Lectures

Hugo House in Seattle, WAview map
7:30 PM PT / 9:30 PM CT / 10:30 PM ET. Event will be held in person at Hugo House in the Lapis Theater, and will also be broadcast virtually. Tickets are available with pay-what-you-can pricing, ranging from $10 to $100. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets


  • “[Pilgrim Bell] is bracing in its honesty and noteworthy in its steadfast adherence to finding the spiritual in even the most mundane settings. Akbar’s mesmerizing dexterity with language is at its most compelling when he is relentlessly pursuing the truth—a hunt that’s present in every poem in this volume.”TIME
  • “Incandescent. . . . [Pilgrim Bell] illuminates questions of divinity and language in swift, surprising lyrics.”Booklist, starred review
  • “Lyrical, profound, and honest, the kind of collection to which a reader will return.”—Library Journal, starred review
  • “Rich and moving. . . . This impressive, thoughtful work shimmers with inventive syntax and spiritual profundity.”Publishers Weekly, starred review
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