Poetry London appoints André Naffis-Sahely as new Poetry Editor

Poetry London has announced the appointment of André Naffis-Sahely as its new Poetry Editor. A leading poet and translator in his own right, Naffis-Sahely arrives with a bold, outward-looking artistic vision for the magazine, building on its enduring priorities and commitment to internationalism. Having been the Poetry Editor at Ambit for the last three years, he will assume full duties as editor from February, and his first issue in post with Poetry London will be Summer 2021.

André Naffis-Sahely is the author of the collection The Promised Land: Poems from Itinerant Life (Penguin, 2017) and the editor of The Heart of a Stranger: An Anthology of Exile Literature (Pushkin Press, 2020) and is a translator with over twenty titles of fiction, nonfiction and poetry to his name.

Naffis-Sahely said of coming into the role:

“I am delighted to take up the position of Poetry Editor at Poetry London, one of the very first literary magazines I picked up, back at the age of fifteen in Abu Dhabi, almost exactly twenty years ago. Over the past three years as poetry editor at Ambit, I proudly published the work of Caleb Femi, Róisín Kelly, Jenny Xie, Threa Almontaser, Hibaq Osman, Taher Adel, Mona Kareem, Supriya Kaur Dhaliwal and Gboyega Odubanjo, among many others. Editing Ambit has made me a better person and broadened not just my reading habits, but my concerns and interests and I hope to bring that enthusiasm to Poetry London. I look forward to showcasing even more work from voices that have been persistently sidelined by mainstream British and American publishing, placing a greater emphasis on working class writers and on work in translation, especially from underrepresented and endangered languages. I believe poetry has a responsibility to challenge and unsettle; it should have an axe to grind, as it rises to challenge our preconceptions and do exactly what an axe does, cut through them.”

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Naffis-Sahely enters the role following the acting editorship of Martha Sprackland, whom the Board and staff team praised for her ‘invaluable leadership’, under which the magazine has grown and thrived. Sprackland said of her time at Poetry London:

“I have loved my time as Acting Poetry Editor for Poetry London, a magazine that I have admired and been involved with for many years – as a reader, a poet, a reviewer, a freelancer, and finally as editor. I am delighted with what we have achieved as a team over the last year and a half. I am particularly proud to have championed the regular publication of poems in facing-page translation, in Arabic, Galician, Kurmanji, Russian, Romanian, Italian, Filipino and more, and to have put the wheels in motion for the planning for Poetry London‘s landmark hundredth issue in 2021, along with other exciting changes. We’ve contended with the challenges of COVID-19 and continued to celebrate each issue with readings by poets calling in from Canada, Spain, the UK, the US, and Zimbabwe, and brought them together with readers everywhere. I have selected poems for the magazine that thrilled and caught me, some written by poets I’ve long admired and others that were completely new to me – and to the magazine – and I found such joy in doing this work. I wish the whole team continued success.”

Of the new appointment, Chair of the Board of Trustees for Poetry London Sophia Blackwell said: 

“I am excited to welcome André Naffis-Sahely to the team and look forward to discovering the new voices he plans to showcase. I would like to thank Martha Sprackland for her unique combination of capable stewardship and artistic vision, which has served the magazine so well.”

Naffis-Sahely’s appointment comes at an exciting juncture in the magazine’s history, with several projects already in progress that will come to fruition across the coming year under his editorship. A digital archive is due to go live in 2021, showcasing the magazine’s 30-year history in the run-up to its 100th-issue birthday celebrations in the autumn.