Contact: Caitlin Graf, The Nation, press [at] thenation.com, 212-209-5400
New York, N.Y.—September 1, 2020—The Nation, America’s leading source of progressive politics and culture, today announced the appointment of Kaveh Akbar as its newest poetry editor. Taking over the magazine’s storied poetry section—which has published the likes of Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Amiri Baraka, Langston Hughes, William Butler Yeats, and Allen Ginsberg—Akbar starts today, September 1, 2020. He will begin accepting submissions for both the website and for print immediately. (See guidelines.)
“Some Nation editors have given poetry a wide berth. Not this one,” said editor D.D. Guttenplan. “Thanks to an undergraduate encounter with the irresistible Kenneth Koch, I’ve been reading poetry for pleasure for decades, and so I am thrilled to welcome Kaveh to The Nation, a poet, editor, and propagandist for the republic of letters for whom I already have enormous admiration.”
“The Nation is delighted to have Kaveh come on board,” added literary editor David Marcus. “An accomplished poet and writer, who writes with heart and dedication, he is also a talented and ambitious editor, and we’re excited to see what he will do in the magazine’s pages.”
“Poetry slows down our metabolization of language—it reminds us language has texture, history, integrity,” said Akbar. “The poet M. NourbeSe Philip talks about poets ‘decontaminating’ language, ‘managing the brutal history that casts a long and deep shadow around the language.’ I can’t improve upon that. I’m excited to introduce Nation readers (and myself) to new voices at the vanguard of such decontamination, voices challenging received notions of what poetry can do and be. I’m especially eager to hear from voices marginalized by traditional channels of American publishing, including international poets, incarcerated poets, undocumented poets, Black, indigenous, and POC poets, trans and queer poets, and disabled poets. Above all, I believe in poetry’s power to substantively contribute to The Nation’s mission of ‘raising up the promise of a radical tomorrow while agitating for meaningful change today.’”
Born in Tehran, Iran, Akbar currently teaches at Purdue University and in the low-residency MFA programs at Randolph and Warren Wilson College. His poems have appeared in The Nation, The New Yorker, Best American Poetry, The Paris Review, The New York Times, and elsewhere, and his newest collection is Pilgrim Bell (Graywolf, 2021). Akbar is also the author of Calling a Wolf a Wolf (Alice James, 2017) and editor of the forthcoming The Penguin Book of Spiritual Verse: 100 Poets on the Divine (Penguin, 2022).
The Nation has long been part of the lifeblood of American letters and literature, with some of the most esteemed poets and writers appearing in our pages. Notable voices include: John Ashbery, W.H. Auden, Amiri Baraka, John Berryman, Elizabeth Bishop, Hart Crane, Mahmoud Darwish, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, Denise Levertov, Claude McKay, W.S. Merwin, Marianne Moore, Pablo Neruda, Frank O’Hara, Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, Anne Sexton, Wallace Stevens, Alice Walker, William Carlos Williams, and William Butler Yeats, among others.
The poetry editor position cycles on two to three year terms. Akbar replaces outgoing co-editors Stephanie Burt and Carmen Giménez Smith who, in their time at the magazine, worked to nurture early career talents as well as established writers, commission a wide range of American and international poetry, and helped insert questions of poetry into the national conversation.
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