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
GenrePoetry, Fiction

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."
  • 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...
  • 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 very 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 lear...
  • Alejandra Oliva
    This book filled my heart all the way up. God and bodies and becoming better.
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • Kate Alleman
    I'm trying to add more poetry books to my to read stack this year. This was a good one to start with! There was a sense of grappling in many of the poems - a sense of being larger than your body, but also confined within and confronted by its limits.My favorites were: "What Seems Like Joy", "Prayer", and "Besides Little Goat, You Just Can't Go Asking For Mercy".
  • Crystal
    My most highly anticipated poetry book of the year and I'd been putting it off because I knew it would be that good (I'm a dessert after all the vegetables person). Raw, visceral, the theme of addiction hit me personally even though my addiction(s) were different. One of my favorites of the year, if not the favorite.
  • Priom Ahmed
    Kaveh Akbar does amazing, delicate things with language and is worth learning from.
  • Annise Blanchard
    AMAZING. I really enjoyed "Desunt Nonnulla", "Soot", "An apology", and "Everything that moves is alive and a threat--a Reminder"
  • Michelle
    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.
  • Aran
    if living proves/anything it's that astonishment is possible
  • Annie Korine
    An unforgettable, striking collection and truly as good as everyone has said it is. Kaveh Akhbar is the embodiment of a poet as truth teller and witness, with work that is both deeply personal and simultaneously universally human.
  • Akshat Jha
    do yourself a favor and read this book, this is something even greater than me, you and this world, it's poetry about poetry which becomes a part of you without you knowing it, i will walk in a daze now that I have read this book, thank you Kaveh for reaffirming my belief that there are things greater than us which give us solace while constantly sweeping us off our feet
  • Kumar
    So trust me now: when I say thirst, I mean defeated,abandoned-in-faith, lonely-as-the-slow-charge-into-a-bayonetthirst. Imagine being the sand forced to watch silt dancein the Nile. Imagine being the oil boiling away an entire person.Today, I’m finding problems in areas where I didn’t have areas before....Some famous authors (and critics) believe that postmodernism rejects the individual with an emphasis on anonymous experience. That, to put ...
  • Katie
    "Unburnable the Cold is Flooding Our Lives"the prophets are alive but unrecognizable to usas calligraphy to a mouse for a time they draggedlong oar strokes across the sky now they sitin graveyards drinking coffee forking soapy cottage cheeseinto their mouths my hungry is different than their hungry I envy their discipline but not enough to do anything about it I blame my culture I blame everyone but myself intent arrives like a call to prayer and...