Four MA Creative Writing students successfully published Birmingham’s first quarterly poetry anthology with zero budget! After identifying a gap in the market, Suna, Naush, Olivia, and Adrian combined their skills and passion for poetry to produce a journal which can now be found in the British library.
University is a great spring-board for developing skills, networking and finding like-minded people with similar ambitions. MA students Olivia Hodgson, Naush Sabah, Adrian B. Earle and Suna Afshan found similar values amongst themselves and decided to input their creative minds into a project they all valued – Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal.
We met with the students to learn more about their project and the process of completing their publication.
Where there is a will, there is a way
Suna Afshan, Editor and MA Creative Writing student:
We are Birmingham’s first quarterly poetry channel. We saw a gap in the market and took the opportunity to fill it. It was never a matter of how we could do it, but when. We initially were concerned that we may need approval and questioned if we needed to be more prolific. Nevertheless, we persevered and prepared ourselves for multiple barriers and to our surprise it was quite straight forward, especially with the support from academics and the community.
The Journey of the Journal
Olivia Hodgson, Editor and MA Creative Writing student
We truly love what our journal has become. It’s not restrictive in terms of form, length or topic, and we were very open with what participants could submit. Poems vary from being four lines long, to be being four pages long, and it’s wonderful!
With zero advertising budget, no funding or organisational backing we focussed a lot of our attention on social media. The immediate traction is what helped to keep the momentum going. We had over 700 submissions and a number of people submitting form other Continents, we are extremely proud of the outcome.
Words at the Woodman
To celebrate the release of the Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal, students held an event at the Woodman with a selection of poets published in Autumn- Issue 1. Faustine Laderio-Levent, who opens the journal also took great pleasure in opening the event with her spoken word poetry. Other guests included, lecturers and a number of established writers such as Alison Brackenburry, a renowned veteran of poetry.
The Woodman is where the journal originated, five months prior to the event the students sat down and mapped out their plans to generate Birmingham’s new poetry platform.
Where there is a will, there is a way
Adriane B.Earle, Publishing Manager and MA Creative Writing student:
It has been a pleasure to work alongside the poetry sisters. As Publishing Manager, my role involved taking a lead on multiple projects; from type setting and design to distribution, marketing strategy and how it all fits into a sustainable structure. I feel a responsibility to facilitate the creation and development of lasting programmes and projects that will benefit the community. It’s why I founded the Media Company VerseFirst, the Journal’s current publisher, to create media that would open the process of poem making and highlight the great work being created in the West Midlands.
The next chapter
Naush Sabah, Editor and MA Creative Writing student:
Poetry Birmingham is a quarterly journal, with a new issue being released every season. In addition to poetry, there are plans to introduce essay reviews and critical writing. Within the next year we hope to open up our own Birmingham Press, It will be a publishing house where we will focus on collections and pamphlets.
One valuable thing we have been able to take from our lectures and bring to the journal is our critical engagement. We take the time to deeply engage with what has been written, bringing the best out of writers as editors. It brings each of us joy to talk about our craft and to now have the opportunity to curate, edit and present our work to the world, it is incredible! A vital take away from this is – If you want something to exist, create it.