CALLING A WOLF A WOLF, BY KAVEH AKBAR
Calling a Wolf a Wolf—the long awaited full-length debut from poet Kaveh Akbar, recipient of a 2016 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship and founding editor of Divedapper—comes at the reader “like a ram charging a mirror.” A book surrounded with so much anticipation runs the risk of disappointing but here the poet continues to demonstrate his deep, critical understanding of what it means to “struggle / not to die, to not drink or smoke or snort anything / that might return me to combustibility.” His lines surge with the energy that he fights to restrain while never spilling over into excess. In the logic of this powerfully rendered world, things are not what they are, but rather what they seem—the moon is a pale cabbage rose, a lover is plucked from the poet’s mouth like an apple seed. Objects are more vivid, more real in these poems than their earthly analogues. “It is difficult,” as Akbar notes, “telling the size of something / when it’s right above you”—but for the careful reader, this debut is too large to miss.