Kaveh Akbar


Kaveh Akbar’s poems appear in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Paris Review, Best American Poetry, and elsewhere. His second full-length volume of poetry, Pilgrim Bell, will be published by Graywolf in August 2021. His debut, Calling a Wolf a Wolf, is out now with Alice James in the US and Penguin in the UK. He is also the author of the chapbook, Portrait of the Alcoholic, published in 2016 by Sibling Rivalry Press. In 2022, Penguin Classics will publish a new anthology edited by Kaveh: The Penguin Book of Spiritual Verse: 100 Poets on the Divine. In 2020 Kaveh was named Poetry Editor of The Nation. The recipient of honors including multiple Pushcart Prizes, a Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship, and the Levis Reading Prize, Kaveh was born in Tehran, Iran, and teaches at Purdue University and in the low-residency MFA programs at Randolph College and Warren Wilson. In 2014, Kaveh founded Divedapper, a home for dialogues with the most vital voices in American poetry. With Sarah Kay and Claire Schwartz, he wrote a weekly column for the Paris Reviewcalled "Poetry RX." Source

Against the Parts of Me That Think They Know Anything

They want to put out the light of God with their mouths—

want, like the sovereignty of the dead, extending just short of flesh. Their

today is broken, they suggest tomorrow, who right now is dancing in the sun with

putty over his eyes. Like an ocean coughing up trash, I’m squeezing God

out from my pores, intention throbbing like a moon. Which of

the jokes I told was best—the difference between man and light?

Light won’t ask for your tongue. Good joke, the taste of lemon. The

official death toll rising while we sleep. It’s crude how they’ve figured out

God, tacky as jugglers at a funeral. Just let me grieve what I’ve lost. They were put

with me fully built, passionless as shoelaces, pitying even my name. To

their credit, they weren’t given what I have: majesty and the heft of a face. They want

mouths like mine that can blow out tiny fires. The mercy of speech. Of sleep. Of they.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Death & Loss

Racial Injustice

Literary Devices:


conversation between two or more people as a feature of a book, play, or movie


a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic


the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing

Varied syntax

diverse sentence structure