Kaveh Akbar

Kaveh Akbar (b. 1989, Tehran, Iran) teaches at Purdue University, Indiana, and is the founding editor of Divedapper, a journal devoted to interviews with poets. His first published poem, at seven years old, was called ‘A Packer Poem’, and took as its subject-matter the Green Bay Packers football team. Calling a Wolf a Wolf has darker concerns at its heart: alcoholism, desire, faith. He has described it as an unconventional addiction recovery narrative, ‘less focused on war stories and more on the psycho/physio/cosmological implications of addiction and recovery’.

As a very young child in Tehran, Akbar was taught by his parents to pray in Arabic, a language none of them spoke. This idea of a special, secret language would become the bedrock for his conception of poetry: ‘the understanding that language has a capacity beyond the mere relay of semantic data, that if a line could be spoken with sufficient beauty and conviction, it might thin the membrane between its speaker and whichever divine (God, desire, despair, the mind, the body) they wish to address.’

Forward Prizes History:

  • 2018 Forward Prizes for Best First Collection, shortlisted for Calling a Wolf a Wolf (Penguin UK)
photo credit: Hieu Minh Nguyen