Today’s guest, poet Kaveh Akbar, discusses his latest poetry collection Pilgrim Bell. Given that Akbar once suggested that syntax was identity, how do the changes in Akbar’s own poetry, from his first collection to now, reflect changes in himself as a person? Akbar talks about the ways in which poetry can be a spiritual technology, about the qualities poetry and prayer share, about the language and gesture of prayer, about the orbital nature of poetry, and about making room for silence and the unsayable in one’s poems. Akbar also talks about revolutionary poetics. What would a revolutionary poetics look like? Who are good examples of poets whose poems and lives do real work in the world? How do we know if our poems are doing work or just fooling us into thinking so?
For the bonus audio archive, Kaveh Akbar adds a reading and discussion of “In Praise of the Laughing Worm,” a poem that, although he loves it, didn’t quite fit in the collection. This joins bonus audio from Jorie Graham, Alice Oswald, Nikky Finney, Douglas Kearney, Arthur Sze, Layli Long Soldier, Natalie Diaz, and many others. To find out how to subscribe to the bonus audio and about the many other potential benefits of becoming a listener-supporter of the show, including books and rare collectibles donated by past guests, head over to the Between the Covers Patreon page.