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This interview is taken from PN Review 264, Volume 48 Number 4, March - April 2022.

Nuash Sabah in conversation Rory Waterman
RW: What encouraged you to start Poetry Birmingham in 2019? And why the geographical focus, at least in the name?

NS: I think people who start things, as well as having some intense creative impulse, have some shared quality of restlessness and dissatisfaction with the way things are, so decide to pull up their sleeves and make anew. I was in my second year of a part-time MA at Birmingham City University and would read PN Review and The Poetry Review; I’d flick through Poetry London and Poetry Wales at the library, or The North whenever I came across it, and feel an appropriate sense of Brummie indignation that the second city didn’t have anything like them. I knew of Bare Fiction and Ad Alta, both linked to the University of Birmingham, but one had ceased to publish, the other was academic, and neither was dedicated specifically to poetry. So, the name was born with the idea really: I wanted there to be a Birmingham poetry magazine and talked my friends into making it with me. I suppose it was also a way of finding my place in contemporary poetry – by creating it.

What ‘dissatisfaction with the way things are’, other than the erstwhile absence of a Birmingham-based poetry magazine? How has starting one helped you to ‘find your place in contemporary poetry’?

Poetry subculture seemed like a closed, highly incestuous network, heavily weighted towards young, London poets or academics. In Birmingham, there is a thriving scene of poetry nights but the dominant form seemed to be spoken word ...

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