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This interview is taken from PN Review 260, Volume 47 Number 6, July - August 2021.

In conversation with André Naffis-Sahely Rory Waterman
Waterman: You live in the USA, and you’re married to an American, yet in one recent poem you write: ‘how strange it is that it’s here, / where after a decade of rootlessness, // I abandon all cravings for permanence…’, which does not imply a settled spirit. What is your relationship to your current homeland? Has it at least been fertile ground for your poetry, do you think?


Naffis-Sahely: I’m a citizen of the world, not that citizenship is a political construct that satisfies our needs and aspirations. I cannot think of a single nation-state that hasn’t persistently betrayed even its most loyal citizens, even when it pretends to include them: ‘America never was America to me’, Langston Hughes once wrote. The two cities that dominated my perspective and growth as a child and adolescent were Venice and Abu Dhabi, neither of which truly accepted me as one of their own. After dispatching its sons and daughters to the far corners of the world in search of profit for the entirety of its history, the Most Serene city of Venice is now childless, having priced nearly everyone out of the islands and into the mainland. Abu Dhabi’s princes, on the other hand, consider 9 out of 10 of the people within their borders as disposable servants and I’ve written about that extensively. Despite a very happy twelve-year spell in the UK, recent political changes have made it abundantly clear that foreigners of my ilk are no longer tolerated. I moved to the US to be with my partner, who could ...


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