The Desert Nights, Rising Stars
Writers Conference

Picture of Kaveh Akbar

Kaveh Akbar

Desert Nights Rising Stars Writers Conference Faculty, 2018

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.

Selected Media


"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."