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

Do You Speak Persian?

Some days we can see Venus in mid-afternoon. Then at night, stars

separated by billions of miles, light traveling years


to die in the back of an eye.


Is there a vocabulary for this—one to make dailiness amplify

and not diminish wonder?


I have been so careless with the words I already have.


I don’t remember how to say home

in my first language, or lonely, or light.


I remember only

delam barat tang shodeh, I miss you,


and shab bekheir, goodnight.


How is school going, Kaveh-joon?

Delam barat tang shodeh.


Are you still drinking?

Shab bekheir.


For so long every step I’ve taken

has been from one tongue to another.


To order the world:

I need, you need, he/she/it needs.


The rest, left to a hungry jackal

in the back of my brain.


Right now our moon looks like a pale cabbage rose.

Delam barat tang shodeh.


We are forever folding into the night.

Shab bekheir.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:




Doubt & Fear


Memory & The Past

Poems of Place

Literary Devices:


a recurrence of the same word or phrase two or more times

Rhetorical Question

a question asked for effect, not necessarily to be answered