Kaveh Akbar on Poetry

We have to say it in a way that will delight the ear or the tongue or the mind of a reader who will never know us. It’s the only way in. And to do that, we have to be capable of imagining that reader, imagining them wholly, gassy and distracted by their phone and worried about the news and late to pick up their son from ballet.

Kaveh Akbar in conversation with Danez Smith for Granta. Both poets are shortlisted for the Forward Prizes for Poetry 2018.

Photo: Birbiglebug/CC BY-SA 4.0

That deep, immersive experience of reading around a theme … is an experience, I think, that’s best had between the covers of a book. Scrolling and toggling and moving from screen to screen is trance-like, sure. But it’s a different experience, physically, to spend two hours on the Internet versus two hours in a book. Your body feels different. Your eyes feel different. Online, the form and the content are working, to some degree, against each other.

Louise Erdrich and the Living Power of Stories John Freeman (Granta, Freeman’s) writes about his favortie passage in literature – a passage from Louise Erdrich’s great Love Medicine.