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Kaveh Akbar

Kaveh Akbar is the author of the poetry collections Pilgrim Bell (Graywolf, 2021) and Calling a Wolf a Wolf (Alice James, 2017) as well as the chapbook Portrait of the Alcoholic (Sibling Rivalry, 2017). Akbar’s poems appear in the New Yorker, Poetry, the Paris Review, Best American Poetry, the New York Times, and elsewhere. The recipient of honors including multiple Pushcart Prizes, a Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship, the Levis Reading Prize, and a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship, Akbar is the Poetry Editor of the Nation. Born in Tehran, Iran, he teaches at the University of Iowa and in the low-residency MFA programs at Randolph College and Warren Wilson College.



Summer 2018 | Poetry

The stillness you prize.
Won’t prize you back. Two beefsteaks.
Ripening on a windowsill. A purple tray.
Piled with coal. From the field.
Of solemn brothers calling.
Your name in unison you learn.
Men are irrelevant but.
Persistent symmetries are not.

Reza’s Restaurant, Chicago, 1997

Summer 2018 | Poetry

           the waiters milled about filling sumacshakers clearing away plates of onion andradish           my father pointed to each person whisperedPersian about the old man with the silver [...]


Spring 2017 | Poetry

go ahead tread on me
see if I care I am already
unhuggable as a cactus
and too big to fit on any
lap keep your excuses
short or better yet keep
them to yourself any

Tower of Babel

Spring 2017 | Poetry

My reward for waking: close walls
and limestone dust, spit
evaporating from my tongue. First

I count and recount
my toes, throw out grain
for the carp, snatch a femur

The New World

Fall 2016 | Poetry

Do I have to talk about fear? 
So much has already been said 
about hidden spiders, compass needles
lodged in the soft of an eye. 

Look, the Human Is Shrinking

Fall 2016 | Poetry

It’s normal to do it alone, the feint-and-jab
           of forgetting. I believe in only what I can recite 

from memory, like the ninety-nine names
           for thirst: soft-hell, root-torn-from-soil, rain-

Against Vanity

Fall 2016 | Poetry

Away from the cruel magnification
            of a shaving mirror, I clean up well.
I am content with orange teeth and salty
            skin, with having borrowed my beauty 

            from the ocean. See my kelpy eyes, the pearl
on my tongue? Flatter me, flatterer! I still care 
            about dignity, like a blindfolded duke
being led to the gallows. It’s hard not to smile