Calling a Wolf a Wolf
"The struggle from late youth on, with and without God, agony, narcotics and love is a torment rarely recorded with such sustained eloquence and passion as you will find in this collection." —Fanny HoweThis highly-anticipated debut boldly confronts addiction and courses the strenuous path of recovery, beginning in the wilds of the mind. Poems confront craving, control, the constant battle of alcoholism and sobriety, and the questioning of the self and its instincts within the context of this never-ending fight.“In Calling a Wolf a Wolf, Kaveh Akbar exquisitely and tenaciously braids astonishment and atonement into a singular lyric voice. The desolation of alcoholism widens into hard-won insight: ‘the body is a mosque borrowed from Heaven.’ Doubt and fear spiral into grace and beauty. Akbar’s mind, like his language, is perpetually in motion. His imagery—wounded and resplendent—is masterful and his syntax ensnares and releases music that’s both delicate and muscular. Kaveh Akbar has crafted one of the best debuts in recent memory. In his hands, awe and redemption hinge into unforgettable and gorgeous poems.” —Eduardo C. Corral

Calling a Wolf a Wolf Details

TitleCalling a Wolf a Wolf
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 12th, 2017
PublisherAlice James Books
ISBN-139781938584671
Rating
GenrePoetry

Calling a Wolf a Wolf Review

  • Roxane
    January 1, 1970
    An outstanding book of poetry. I was particularly impressed by the imagery and deftness with language. The title poem is by far my favorite but every poem offers something compelling or strange or unknowable and always beautiful.
  • Book Riot Community
    January 1, 1970
    Earlier this year, I urged Book Riot readers to follow Kaveh Akbar (and a few other poets) on Twitter, in part on the power of his chapbook, Portrait of the Alcoholic, which was published in January. Beating everyone on this list for turnaround time, Akbar is about to publish another book, this one full length, not even 9 months later. This book continues Portrait‘s examination of addiction and recovery (“everyone wants to know / what I saw on the long walk / away from you”) but expands that foc Earlier this year, I urged Book Riot readers to follow Kaveh Akbar (and a few other poets) on Twitter, in part on the power of his chapbook, Portrait of the Alcoholic, which was published in January. Beating everyone on this list for turnaround time, Akbar is about to publish another book, this one full length, not even 9 months later. This book continues Portrait‘s examination of addiction and recovery (“everyone wants to know / what I saw on the long walk / away from you”) but expands that focus to even more encompass the whole ragged, lovely space where one’s self meets one’s world (“the geese are curving around the horizon drawing maps / a curve is a straight line broken at all its points so much / of being alive is breaking”). Akbar’s poems are somehow and always striking, sensual, abstract, and exploratory. And Calling a Wolf a Wolf has one big advantage over Portrait: it simply has more of those gorgeous poems for you to dive headfirst into.–Derek Attigfrom Buy, Borrow, Bypass: Second Book Edition: https://bookriot.com/2017/08/21/secon...
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  • Margaryta
    January 1, 1970
    **This review first appeared in Alternating Current's review column The Coil**We are living in a time of witnesses, beginning with ourselves. With Kaveh Akbar’s Calling a Wolf a Wolf, we are not only witnessing the rise of a prominent contemporary poet, but we are also challenged to relook at the way we respond to the emotional obstacles faced by ourselves and others. Challenges are the central force of the collection, but they are not necessarily presented as such. Rather than focusing on the d **This review first appeared in Alternating Current's review column The Coil**We are living in a time of witnesses, beginning with ourselves. With Kaveh Akbar’s Calling a Wolf a Wolf, we are not only witnessing the rise of a prominent contemporary poet, but we are also challenged to relook at the way we respond to the emotional obstacles faced by ourselves and others. Challenges are the central force of the collection, but they are not necessarily presented as such. Rather than focusing on the difficulties in the common understanding of the term, Akbar facilitates an atmosphere of observation with a child-like fascination that comes with wanting to figure something out. He carefully leads the reader through an array of verbal tableaux in which the line between happiness and suffering is constantly being pushed and redrawn. These complex composites are pulsing with life as they reflect on it, noting the waya month ago they dragged up a drownedtourist his bloatwhite belly filled with radishes and lamb shank hisentire digestive system was a tiny museum of pleasure compared to him Iam healthy and unremarkable here I am reading a pharmaceutical brochurehere I am dying at an average pace(“Calling a Wolf a Wolf (Inpatient),” p 14).Reading Calling a Wolf a Wolf was ritualistic — each time I sat down with the book I could never bring myself to read more than half a dozen pages, afraid that even one more would result in a lesser amount of appreciation than each individual poem deserves. Akbar’s voice has the power of a prophet returning to childhood, to a state of sharp awareness that is concerned with capturing the unadulterated fleeting moment and prolonging it into a miniature eternity, a sentiment shared by the collection’s speaker when proclaiming:I am not a slow learner I am a quick forgettersuch erasing makes one voracious if you teach me somethingbeautiful I will name it quickly before it floats away(“Desunt Nonnulla,” p 23).It is a voice one will want to listen to both out of personal volition and out of the simple inability to stop doing so. Empathy, one of the greatest gifts a poet can give his reader, is found in abundance within the collection’s pages. Akbar doesn’t simply make the reader connect and slip into the situation of the speaker. He elicits a willingness to be present, always requesting and offering in an ongoing dialogue between speaker and reader. There is no feeling of obligation as much as there is a quiet request to remain and listen to howmecca is a mothchewing holes in a shirt I leftat a lover’s house(“A Boy Steps into the Water,” p 30).If the greater, overarching tone of the collection is not convincing enough to make one pick up these poems, then there is an equally convincing case to be made by picking through their minute bones. One will not find anything far-reaching or purposefully convoluted — there are no lines laden with esoteric references, no traces of artifice or exaggeration. Take, for instance, the following passage from the first poem in the first section:I stacked the pears on the manteluntil I ran out of room and began filling them intothe bathtub one evening I slid in as if into a moundof jewels now ghost finches leave footprintson our snowy windowsills(“Wild Pear Tree,” p 5).Akbar not only proves that simplicity can be startling, but that it can also be made to feel, and truly be, new. It is once again an echo of the authenticity Calling a Wolf a Wolf brings to the genre, which it carries over into the poems dealing with spiritual contemplation, poems like the astounding opener “Soot.” These are poems that are, poems that are present and always aware. It isn’t necessary for them to stand on a street corner and loudly scream their intentions as the screaming happens naturally for anyone reading them, filled with a sense of urgency and calm realization.Many more things can be said about these poems, which offer both colorful and emotional lines that link together to form a tapestry of the battleground between creator and destroyer in the context of the self and the spiritual; I will leave this for future readers to discover for themselves. Instead, it is worth adding how much Akbar has also added to the poetry community as a poet to look up to. I will forever remain amazed by “Orchids Are Sprouting from the Floorboards,” simple, cyclical, and moving in its progressive build-up, which has already begun shaping my own writing. Calling a Wolf a Wolf is a humble offering to readers and poets alike, baring its scars and vocal cords as libations to the hungry reader not in defeat, but as a sign of pure, endless courage.
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  • Marne Wilson
    January 1, 1970
    "I am sealing all my faults with platinum// so they'll gleam like the barrel of a laser gun," the poet writes, and that seems like a very fitting description of what is going on in this book. This is raw, visceral poetry dealing with some heavy subjects (most notably alcoholism and other addictions), yet it is often beautiful and always powerful. Some of the imagery in the poems is complex and difficult to unpack, but just when you feel you're getting too tangled up, the poet will drop in a simp "I am sealing all my faults with platinum// so they'll gleam like the barrel of a laser gun," the poet writes, and that seems like a very fitting description of what is going on in this book. This is raw, visceral poetry dealing with some heavy subjects (most notably alcoholism and other addictions), yet it is often beautiful and always powerful. Some of the imagery in the poems is complex and difficult to unpack, but just when you feel you're getting too tangled up, the poet will drop in a simple declarative sentence that clears the air. Here's one: "I like it fine, this daily struggle// to not die, to not drink or smoke or snort anything/ that might return me to combustibility." Or how about this? "Most days I try hard to act human, to breathe/ like a human and speak with the same flat language, but often// my kindness is clumsy." I feel like I'm not doing this book justice at all, but it's one of those books that is almost impossible to review. Just get a copy and find out for yourself.(Note: I received my copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway.)
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    This is a collection to be savored, read again and again- outloud when possible. Full of images that will stun your imagination and language that leaves your heart aching.
  • Brandon Amico
    January 1, 1970
    "I drank an entire language / and flung tar at whatever moved." Kaveh Akbar's CALLING A WOLF A WOLF could be summed up in a variety of ways, most of them true, none of them showing the whole picture, but this passage gets at something in the core of this remarkable collection: the insight of someone who is willing to freeze indulgence, lack, and longing in their tracks and give us time to examine them. Here is a body broken, reassembled, stress-tested, and placed under a thousand different light "I drank an entire language / and flung tar at whatever moved." Kaveh Akbar's CALLING A WOLF A WOLF could be summed up in a variety of ways, most of them true, none of them showing the whole picture, but this passage gets at something in the core of this remarkable collection: the insight of someone who is willing to freeze indulgence, lack, and longing in their tracks and give us time to examine them. Here is a body broken, reassembled, stress-tested, and placed under a thousand different lights. Here is the poet examining what it means to hunger, what it is to be full, and how our desires can inflict both on us simultaneously.The poems in Akbar's debut full-length collection sing with a music that loops, charges, stutters, and echoes; the poet is at home in various syntaxes and tones, but they all hearken back to an author listening to his body and bringing it to page with the tools a poet has. In this way, even in its original tongue, the book feels like a translation. Something describable and discernible by our senses, but coming from a place beyond language. Kaveh's best gift (of which he has many) is the willingness to listen, and transcribe for us these desires and states of mind that are so fundamental to the human existence they feel like they are eternal, an ongoing source of energy transmuted into word and page."The boat I am building / will never be done" are the final words of the book, and after the experience in these 89 pages they ring true; Akbar and his poetry are perpetually growing, changing, adapting, and it is our own good fortune to be given a glimpse at the imperfectness of a human being present in their body in the world.
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  • Jay
    January 1, 1970
    It's difficult to review poetry, but I'll do my best and say that this debut volume is remarkable. Kaveh Akbar can make language do startling things, both intense, harrowing, and gorgeous. So often reading his work will make me pause as I realize I've been given an image or an experience with language completely and wonderfully surprising. Kaveh Akbar is worth following on Twitter if you're interested in poetry at all. He also founded the poetry interview website Divedapper. He's a young poet wi It's difficult to review poetry, but I'll do my best and say that this debut volume is remarkable. Kaveh Akbar can make language do startling things, both intense, harrowing, and gorgeous. So often reading his work will make me pause as I realize I've been given an image or an experience with language completely and wonderfully surprising. Kaveh Akbar is worth following on Twitter if you're interested in poetry at all. He also founded the poetry interview website Divedapper. He's a young poet with challenging life experiences and astonishing talent, as well as generous and openhearted in his love for the art of poetry.
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  • Dena Afrasiabi
    January 1, 1970
    "I have forgotten even the easy prayer I was supposed to use/ in emergencies something something I was not/born here I was not born here I was not." Kaveh Akbar sets language on fire. I don't know how else to describe this book than to say it's the literary equivalent of lying next to someone on their deathbed while they rapidly whisper truths all night in your ear as you drift in and out of sleep, dreaming that their words are coated in gold flakes, glass and marshmallows. Read it; it'll make y "I have forgotten even the easy prayer I was supposed to use/ in emergencies something something I was not/born here I was not born here I was not." Kaveh Akbar sets language on fire. I don't know how else to describe this book than to say it's the literary equivalent of lying next to someone on their deathbed while they rapidly whisper truths all night in your ear as you drift in and out of sleep, dreaming that their words are coated in gold flakes, glass and marshmallows. Read it; it'll make you more human.
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  • Kayla
    January 1, 1970
    " I lack nothing unless you count everything I want. I'm meant to be spreading tenderness over the Earth like seeds, like worms. Instead I've been shoveling coal into burning houses, fanning the ash. Hold your applause, hold the horns curling out from my skull which are getting so long now and so sharp"
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  • Nick
    January 1, 1970
    Raw to the bone, stop you in your tracks, shake your head in awe and despair and astonishment. Here are poems that will cling to your ribs and keep you warm when there's nothing else to dull the overwhelming buzzing in your head.
  • Stephen Lamb
    January 1, 1970
    "We all want / the same thing (to walk in sincere wonder, / like the first man to hear a parrot speak), but we live / on an enormous flatness floating between / two oceans." (from Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before)
  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    A must read. Do yourself a favor, and buy this book.
  • Savannah
    January 1, 1970
    if i could spend every day reading a new kaveh poem, i would, and gladly.
  • Aude Odeh
    January 1, 1970
    Solid 5 stars. Great read. Goes beyond the cliché level. Keeps you on your feet with the stylistic changes. Lovely read. Didn't want it to end.
  • Jacob
    January 1, 1970
    Truly the greatest
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