Kaveh Akbar Archive
The first literary interviews I remember reading were those conducted by my undergraduate poetry professor, a white man of a certain age. They were compiled in a collection published by a university press in 1983. White men were asking most of the questions, and white men were answering.
Perhaps it’s paradoxical to want to define bewilderment, much less bewilderment as a poetics, given that the word generally refers to a state of confusion, an unmooring from the resolute signifiers that compose our comfortable, if not tidal and illusory, understanding of reality.
Perhaps in times like these, when the work of making sense of the world around us gets harder, we need poetry that points toward that difficulty—and that makes that work worthwhile.
There are a number of practices and resources that can encourage the practice of reading generously or introduce one to new writers.
One of the hardest things to learn about writing poems is how to break lines—where to enjamb or full-stop, where to leave sentences dangling into surprise, where to make one thing appear like it will be another.
I carried Kaveh Akbar’s Portrait of the Alcoholic around for weeks before reading it. I do this from time to time when I know a text is going to challenge me beyond the ways in which poetry is always challenging; I like to prepare for a confrontation.