The Virginia G. Piper
Center for Creative Writing

Picture of Kaveh Akbar

Kaveh Akbar

Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference Faculty 2018

About Kaveh Akbar

Kaveh Akbar is the founding editor of Divedapper. His poems appear recently in The New Yorker, Poetry, Ploughshares, APR, Tin House, and elsewhere. His debut full-length collection, Calling a Wolf a Wolf, is just out with Alice James Books; he is also the author of the chapbook Portrait of the Alcoholic. The recipient of a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, a Pushcart Prize, and a Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, Kaveh was born in Tehran, Iran, and teaches at Purdue University and in the low-residency MFA program at Randolph College.

View Conference Sessions with this Faculty

Writer in the World: Publishing and Author Platforms
Kaveh Akbar, Emily Bell, Nina McConigley, Daniel José Older

Saturday, February 24, 2018, 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Location: Carson Ballroom, Old Main
Type: Panel
Genre: Business of Writing, Editing, Publishing

In today’s publishing industry, author promotion lies in the hands of the individual author as much as the publisher. With the increasing number of small and varied presses, a writer’s understanding of their role during and after the publication process is crucial. How do you build networks, find reviews, obtain interviews, and help get the word out about your work? Join authors Daniel José Older, Kaveh Akbar and Nina McConigley as they discuss what it means to involve yourself in publishing and the ways contemporary writers work with their publishers to shape and market their books.

Mining the Poetic Unconscious
Kaveh Akbar

Saturday, February 24, 2018, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.
Location: Basha, Old Main
Type: Generative Workshop, Presentation
Genre: Poetry

Transcendent American poet Max Ritvo wrote that if the world outside a poet’s head is more interesting than the world inside their head, they might as well become a journalist. His point: it’s what’s inside the poet’s mind, what (or who) is hooting or singing or moaning or gagging inside the poet’s own totally unique psychic ecosystem that allows the poet access to a singular voice.

The First Book: Publishing and You
Kaveh Akbar, Andrea Avery, Derek Palacio, Kristen Radtke

Friday, February 23, 2018, 2:45 to 3:45 p.m.
Location: Carson Ballroom, Old Main
Type: Panel
Genre: Business of Writing, Publishing

Publication is an exciting and daunting aspect of being a writer. You’ve put in an enormous amount of work in a manuscript and you’re ready for publishers to take a look. Now what? What do you need to know in the process to be prepared for a first book publication? Join Kristen Radtke, Andrea Avery, Dereck Palacio, and Kaveh Akbar in this mixed-genre session designed to help you navigate the journey of what to expect during the first book publication process.

More About This Faculty


"I solicit interviews with poets whose work I can (and usually already have) proudly proselytize(d). They might range from academic titans to small press instigators—the only qualification is that I be able to back the work. If the poet is amenable, we move forward [ . . . ] I want to be able to have meaningful conversations with the poets whose words have shaped the way I experience the world, and I want to share the artifacts of those conversations with as many people as possible."

"Kaveh Akbar on the "illicit luck" of a daily poetry practice." Katie Schmid Henson, Prairie Schooner (Feb. 11, 2016).

"Read a certain way, Divedapper almost becomes a diary about my conception of myself as a writer. I started out being super self-conscious, very starchy. I was anxious that the people I was interviewing (my heroes!) wouldn’t think I was qualified to be interviewing them, so I prepared a lot of complicated, near-unanswerable questions quoting 19th-century poetic theory and that sort of thing. It was very cringe-y. Now, I don’t even prepare questions in advance. I take a few notes, list some poem names and publication dates, but by and large the conversations just happen organically. I don’t know what that is, exactly—patience, confidence, comfort in my own skin—but whatever it is, Divedapper’s given it to me."

"River of Milk." Kaveh Akbar, Poetry (Oct. 2016). Includes an audio recording

bear with me      it wasn’t long ago I was brainless
lazily pulling fireflies into my teeth       chewing them

into pure light

"Calling a Wolf a Wolf (Inpatient)." Kaveh Akbar, the Adroit Journal 17. Includes an audio recording.

like the sky I've been too quiet     everyone's forgotten I'm here

"Back and Forth with Kaveh Akbar." Thibault Raoult, The Georgia Review (Jan. 4, 2017).

"I think there’s this magic thing that happens for poets—when we spend enough time in poetry, in our poems and the poems of others—where everything we experience in our day-to-day life enters our consciousness through the filter of its poetic utility. Every phrase and interaction acquires the charge of poetic potential. The cruel name your partner calls you mid-fight, the mistranslated item on a restaurant menu, the bizarre instructions a girl on the sidewalk whispers into her cell phone. All of it enters, first, as poem lumber."