The Summer 2021 issue of Poetry London, André Naffis-Sahely’s first issue as the magazine’s new editor, features poems by Anne Waldman, Claudia Rankine, Najwan Darwish, Iman Mersal, Vidyan Ravinthiran, Momtaza Mehri, Roseanne Watt and Seán Hewitt, as well as a previously uncollected poem by John Ashbery (1927–2017). Other highlights include translations from Amharic, Arabic, French, Persian and Portuguese and two fascinating interviews. The first is a companion piece to John Ashbery’s ‘The Quitter’, an excerpt from a posthumous book of longer, late-period poems from the Ashbery oeuvre, published for the first time this summer by Carcanet. To accompany this exclusive, our reviews editor Dai George talks to Emily Skillings, the editor of the volume, about Ashbery’s unique writing process and the bittersweet task of preparing the book. The issue’s second interview is a nourishing, celebratory conversation between Theresa Lola and Major Jackson, focused on Jackson’s recent volume The Absurd Manbut panning out to the wider question of how to find joy through poetry in troubled times.

The issue’s featured essays are an excerpt from Fred D’Aguiar’s forthcoming Year of Plagues: A 2020 Memoir (HarperCollins, 2021) which discusses his Caribbean upbringing and his American life amidst his battle against cancer, the pandemic and the fight for racial justice in the United States, and an excerpt from Maria Stepanova’s In Memory of Memory (Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2021), translated by Sasha Dugdale, which was just shortlisted for the International Booker Prize. This issue reaffirms Poetry London’s long-standing commitment to internationalism and marks the beginning of a new editorial vision, which will prioritise work that deals with issues of migration, economic injustice and freedom of speech, introducing our audiences to poetry of the highest level that also addresses the most pressing issues of our times. At the head of the issue’s reviews is Degna Stone’s deep, reflective analysis of a landmark new work, Claudia Rankine’s Just Us. Stone unpacks how Rankine interrogates the dynamics of race and power in America while modelling the type of ‘honest and vulnerable’ conversation that might begin the work of justice. Elsewhere in the reviews section are articles covering new work by poets including Rachel Long, Safiya Sinclair, Robert Selby and Rory Waterman.

Discover more from this issue…



Editorial by André Naffis-Sahely

Najwan Darwish
Let the Journey End Here

Olivia Elias
Barca Nostra, 19 December 2019

Taher Adel
Twelve Million

Nuzhat Bukhari

Claudia Rankine
sound and fury

Hibaq Osman

Douglas Kearney
Freedom! Freedom! I Can’t – (LIVE)

Iman Mersal
I have a musical name

Sarah Lasoye
Nocturne (Sonnet for the Southeastern)

Vidyan Ravinthiran
Lasantha Wickrematunge

Jennifer Elise Foerster
My silhouette, fossil of the drowned town’s scroll

Anne Waldman
Conversation with a Visionary Botanist

Christopher Soto
Then a Hammer
Realized Its Life Purpose

Meron Berhanu
The Night Shift

Seán Hewitt

Kevin Opstedal
The Smog’s Vibrant Gown

John Ashbery
The Quitter

Adam Green
from ‘MDVL: 1,000 Years of Dark Ages’

Ana Cristina Cesar
June 16
Midnight. June 16

Fatemeh Shams

Jeff Alessandrelli
The Invention of Solitude Begins in Childhood from ‘The Leopard Does Not Change Its Spots’

Momtaza Mehri
Thursday, La Manouba

Roseanne Watt

Featured Essays and Reviews

I Wake With His Name On My Tongue

by Fred D’Aguiar

The Jewboy Hides From View
by Maria Stepanova

A Strategy of Response
Degna Stone reads a work about race, power and the ethics of conversation

Time Came For It
Alison Brackenbury on three collections taking the long view

The Ghost Arm of History
Tara McEvoy welcomes four impressive, haunting debut collections

Resistance and Defiance
Leo Boix reviews three poetry collections in translation from Latin America, the US and the Philippines

The Lost Boys
Zakia Carpenter-Hall on the complex dynamics of class, race and masculinity

‘Now now is everything’
Maria Sledmere on two maximalist poets of the Anthropocene

Wings in My Hair
Phoebe Power explores three new projects that blur human and insect boundaries

Dust now swirling
Vik Shirley on three collections that navigate death and the afterlife

The World’s Touch
Karl Knights salutes three works that expand our understanding of disability and poetics

Exquisite Decreations
Phoebe Clarke reflects on two contrasting modes of ecopoetry

Shouldn’t we all be quitters?

To accompany this exclusive extract from John Ashbery’s Parallel Movement of the Hands, Dai George talks to the book’s editor, Emily Skillings

Unreasonable Dreams

Theresa Lola talks to Major Jackson about the pursuit of joy

Subscribe to Poetry London

Subscribe today!