Calling a Wolf a Wolf by Kaveh Akbar

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 s...

Details Calling a Wolf a Wolf

TitleCalling a Wolf a Wolf
Release DateSep 12th, 2017
PublisherAlice James Books

Reviews Calling a Wolf a Wolf

  • Roxane
    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.
  • Ken
    Sometimes fast starts work against you. It's the "Billy Collins Rule" to always start with your best poems (like they're easy to identify) but I felt like the collection sagged a bit and slouched over the finish line. Still, some strong stuff in the first half made it worth reading. Akbar is one of the young Turks (even though he's Iranian) getting a lot of press lately, including the cover of the latest Poets & Writers.What's up with the cover? ...
  • Ellie
    It took me awhile to really grab hold of these poems: I was reading too tentatively. When I finally dove in, I was amazed by what I found. Beauty amidst addiction, pain, loss. Craving not only alcohol but life itself. There were lines that took my breath away (it slowed my reading, all those lines that demanded deeper attention).There is also a struggle with faith, a craving for a God who often seems absent from His creation.This is a book that a...
  • Kathleen
    "Like the belled cat's // frustrated hunt, my offer to improve myself / was ruined by the sound it made."
  • Catherine
    4.5 stars Poetry books are always difficult reads for me without the structure of an English lit class, allowing me to really analyse them with the help of others. This collection, however, is extremely beautiful and gut-wrenching. I had many favourite lines and moments that made me wish I wasn’t reading a library copy so that I could underline them. The minus half star is really just my own failing, and my wish that I could be in a group to di...
  • anna (readingpeaches)
    "I’m becoming more a vessel of memories than a person it’s a myth that love lives in the heart it lives in the throat we push it out when we speak when we gasp we take a little for ourselves"easily one of the best poetry collections i've read this year. it's so raw & poignant - from the very first poem, it rips out ur bones, leaves u hollow and aching. only to then delicately share w u its own journey to recovery, its own tricks for learning ...
  • Athena Lathos
    One of the most beautiful collections I have ever read. So many of these poems tore my heart out piece by piece, but in the very best way possible. In fact, because of the powerful emotional pull I felt toward this collection, I don't feel like I can write a full critique like I usually do. I will just say that that I think that this book is very much worth reading, especially if you are going through a process of recovery or a period of loneline...
  • Liz Janet
    I'm very careful with the poetry I read, as I'm used to classics instead of new collections, but the clever title caught my attention, it is straight to the point even if seen as hidden in metaphor, and for that I had to give it a chance. The book is mostly based on him and his alcoholic addiction, represented as the wolf. Calling it what it is, he is able to express how he, and his family members and friends feel about this problem, and his con...
  • Ace Boggess
    This is as close to a perfect collection of poems as I can imagine. I normally consume a book of poetry in a day or two, stopping every now and then to reread a piece if I connect with it in some way, but with Calling a Wolf a Wolf, it took me more than a week because I kept going back to reread every piece. Akbar fills his poems so densely with image and idea that each line contains both suffering and joy. The themes include addiction, hunger, c...
  • Lauren
    When I read poetry collections, I either highlight in my e-reader, or tear tiny scraps of paper as markers in my hard copies to revisit phrases or copy down a line or stanza to remember.I read Calling a Wolf a Wolf on my e-reader, and once I realized I was highlighting every single poem, I knew this was a Best of 2018 collection.Akbar's work has received a lot of praise already, and I am just heaping it on. It was a stunning collection and one I ...
  • Paige Pagnotta
    Favorite poems: Calling a Wolf a Wolf (Inpatient), Desunt Nonnulla, Portrait of the Alcoholic Three Weeks Sober, Unburnable The Cold is Flooding Our Lives, Everything That Moves is Alive and a Threat - A Reminder"It's difficult to be anything at all with the whole world right here for the having.""...I carried the coldness like a diamond for years holding it close near as blood until one day I woke and it was fully inside me both of us ruined and...
  • Alejandra Oliva
    This book filled my heart all the way up. God and bodies and becoming better.
  • Nammy
    The first time I read Kaveh Akbar’s poetry, I wasn’t too keen on it. I thought the internal caesura was jarring and I had trouble following their narratives. I loved The Orchids, but that was the only one I really understood. He did a reading at my college, and I was dubious about going. But the lure of witnessing live poetry tugged me towards his reading on Thursday night, and I’m so glad it did.His mannerisms intrigued me. He bent the mik...
  • John Madera
    Kaveh Akbar's Calling a Wolf a Wolf renders the invisible visible and vice versa, memory, loss, exile, addiction, and bodies—whether present, absent, or liminal—among the subjects of these evocative reveries, wistful elegies, and attentive studies. Akbar eschews the false logics of so-called realism in favor of a phantasmatic mysticism, a religion without religiosity, where animals yearn, where tiny crystals turn rivers red, where a peach pit...
  • BookishDubai
    My dear,how did you end up like this?
  • Dan
    Beautiful! Akbar transforms ordinary moments into communion with the divine. I absolutely loved this collection. My favorite poem is "Against Hell," in which he writes "So much of living is about understanding / scale." That idea appears throughout the book and Akbar does what all great poets do, which is reveal the magic in the everyday. I can't recommend this collection enough. If you liked this, make sure to follow me on Goodreads for more rev...
  • Alana
    The best book of poetry I've read in 2017. Truly stunning.
  • Ronnie Stephens
    To my knowledge, this is Kaveh Akbar's full-length debut. Though I have not read his chapbook, Portrait of an Alcholic, I suspect that this collection includes the poems from the chapbook, as there are numerous poems which carry titles beginning with "Portrait of the Alcoholic..." It comes as no surprise that this poems are among the most powerful, and they work to contextualize much of the grief, anguish, and yearning evident throughout the coll...
  • Aran
    if living proves/anything it's that astonishment is possible
  • Margaryta
    **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 necessar...
  • Marne Wilson
    "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 ge...
  • Avery Guess
    Kaveh Akbar’s Calling a Wolf a Wolf opens with the lines “Sometimes God comes to earth disguised as rust, / chewing away a chain link fence or mariner’s knife.” In “Soot,” the poem these lines are from, and in the collection’s subsequent poems, Akbar’s speaker wrestles with both God and demon. God comes in the form of the speaker’s father and religion of Islam, while the demon comes in the form of addiction. The speaker, having ...
  • Samantha
    Y'all, I had to live with this book for a minute. I kept rereading poems and starting over, because I didn't want it to end, and it doesn't even matter now that I am finished because I can go back to these and find something living and new in them each time.Kaveh Akbar makes really messy, beautiful poems about addiction and love and the body. Each one is this dizzying spiral of meandering passion (Is that a thing? I'm calling it a thing) that pan...
  • Robert
    Beautiful and depressing. Here are a few favorite lines:Here I am reading a pharmaceutical brochure / here I am dying at an average pace / envy is the only deadly sin that's no fun for the sinnerI've never set a house on fire / never thrown a firstborn off a bridge / still my whole life I answered every cry for help with a pour / with a turning away / I've given this coldness many names / thinking of it had a name it would have a solution / think...
  • Todd
    Kaveh Akbar's Calling a Wolf a Wolf took some time to read fully because I kept getting stopped by images so rich and striking that I simply had to walk away and spend the day contemplating the implications. Even a title, like "Exciting the Canvas," caused me to sit back and wonder. What does a canvas feel when a painter strokes it with a brush? What does it take to make that canvas "excited"? When is it bored? And then, inside that poem, the lin...
  • Kell
    This is difficult to rate: at its best, the writing deserves 5 stars; mixed up as it is (as I'll describe), it is no more than 3.Some of Akbar's lines are startlingly original and deeply beautiful; many of his poems of ideas are overwrought, full of disconnected factoids, grotesque images, and an abundance of references that, I found, take away from the meanings he is trying to convey. There is an excess of beauty and disgust that (as in The Pict...
  • Amanda
    I originally got this book from the library and after reading the opening poem, Soot, I knew I had to own it so I could write in it and dog-ear my favourite poems. the book is dog-eared from front to back. what i loved about this book in particular was that Kaveh Akbar shows vulnerability in his depiction of his struggle with recovery from alcoholism. He writes about faith and sex and family and culture. The poems are liquid and jewelled and wise...
  • Rachel
    My favorite collection of poems. To date. I have never experienced imagery like this. This book is so piercing, cohesive, and visceral. So many little "oh shit"s escaped my mouth while slowly rationing these poems. If a book could be like a slashing hand wound you got in an abandoned wooden church, only to realize you've already had a dream of this terrible wound happening but you still NEED IT, this book would be it.
  • Adeeb
    I did not love every single poem in this book, but this is truly how poetry should be done. It's not about rhyme or anything like that. It's about imagery. It's about making you feel emotions (sometimes uncomfortable). It's so obvious that there has been so much work put into this collection of poems and I appreciate the author for his work.