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Kaveh Akbar reads at the Poetry Project: April 2, 2017

I asked Kaveh Akbar if I could video him while he read at the Poetry Project and he said yes. All I had was my iPhone, but I put it to use, shooting him vertically, not horizontally because I was up close and Kaveh is tall. I’d heard him read last year at KGB, and thought his poetry was personable and personal, easily imagined, the images he puts in your head every day and commonplace enough, but with a twist that can make you spin your head and say, What? almost perverse, but for an absolute kindness at the bottom of everything he says. His poems, even when he is upset, manage to say thank you, and the past, whether a memory or a dream, is real and there to help you understand right now what is.

At the Poetry Project, Kaveh read new poems along with poems from his recently published, Portrait of the Alcoholic, which I enjoyed reading, and having been an alcoholic myself, I could relate. Portrait of the Alcoholic is full of thoughtful language not about becoming sober, but about becoming beautiful. Often with poems that are beautiful you might not know what the truth really is, but with Kaveh Akbar you do:

from DESUNT NONNULLA (which is Latin for Nothing Follows; editor’s note):

as a child I wasn’t so much foreign as I was very smallmy soul
still unsmogged by its stationI walked learning
the names of things each new title a tiny seizure
of joypaleontologist tarpaper marshmallowI polished them like trophies
eager in delight and colorblindthough I still loved crayons
for their names cerulean gunmetal corn-
flower more than making up for the hues I couldn’t tell apart

and a lovely little bit from DESPITE THEIR SIZE CHILDREN ARE EASY TO REMEMBER THEY WATCH YOU

the better a life
the more sadness it leaves




The following poem is one that Kaveh doesn’t read; it’s the first portrait, and I include it to give you an idea of the work on the page.


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back cover


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Portrait of the Alcoholic is published by Sibling Rivalry Press. Check them out:

http://siblingrivalrypress.bigcartel.com/


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

Portrait of the Alcoholic with Home Invader and Housefly
was originally published in Indiana Review.

Desunt Nonnulla was originally published in Bennington Review.

Despite Their Size Children Are Easy To Remember They Watch You was originally published by The Sonora Review.

Portrait of the Alcoholic


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