Blessings and lessons from a South London poet

Medya Gungor speaks to South London poet Sophie, AKA The Nasty Poet, about her debut book

portrait of woman
Sophie – The Nasty Poet

I had the pleasure of meeting Sophie a few years ago on a coach from London to Oxford. We shared anecdotes between our 20-year-old selves – stories of DJs, nights out (way back when), boys and Berlin – before she invited me to Cellar, a club where she was DJing that night.

I’m now pleased to announce and share the upcoming release of Blessings, Mainly Schoolings, her first independently published poetry book featuring a series of 25 poems, written during lockdown.

Born in Stockwell, Sophie has earnt her reputation through the London poetry scene with her work featuring in VogueNowness and an extensive range of mainstream magazines.

She also hosts the Lyricism Show on Foundation FM and has held residencies at the Hoxton Hotel, Boxpark and Rinse FM.

I spoke with Sophie to understand more about the meaning behind her book and how her poems encompass stories that should be shared with Brixton’s community.

What was the initial inspiration and purpose for Blessings, Mainly Schoolings?

As so much of my work is spoken aloud, I knew I wanted to create something that I could physically have and hold, to share with people who weren’t necessarily present. It was also about developing my written work, rather than spoken.

The book is titled Blessings, Mainly Schoolings as people say everything is a blessing or a lesson.

But sometimes you have to school yourself to understand what’s before you and I’ve thought a lot about the ways in which I should be growing as a human.

The hope is that people reading my book will see that they aren’t alone in certain experiences and lessons they have felt. 

What themes and concepts can we expect to be explored in your poetry?

woman with book

The themes largely deal with love, growth, lust and learning about yourself. I also talk about ADHD and how this can affect relationships. 

Then there’s references to everyday life, like meeting your friends and mucking around.

Sometimes poetry puts this pressure on itself to be regimented or about a “big” theme, when actually it’s OK to write about the little things.

The book explores life as the things we experience that happen to us and the forms and lessons these come in.

As a poet from the South of London, what does Brixton mean to you?

Brixton is the place I call home and means an incredible amount to me. Like every other classic South Londoner, I’ll say that South London is what makes you! 

Brixton holds a huge place in my heart – I’d always walk up to the Ritzy from a young age and it’s the place that’s home to so many people which is what makes it. 

Brixton is like … This wild beast that will always fight back and revolt, no matter how much it changes physically or as new people come in. People from Brixton are the same – they fight for what’s right and what’s theirs.

What wisdom from your own lessons can you offer to aspiring poets?

I would just say: write. 

Every day I try to write something that doesn’t need to have any purpose other than the art of the making and doing itself.

This is something we need in order to function as human beings.

Things don’t always have to have a purpose in order to mean something and you will develop your skills so much better as a writer this way.

As a performance poet, you have to get yourself out there. We have all these tools available for us to share our work with people and we should use them. 

As people, we all feel something, and this is something you should want to share with the world.

book cover

Sophie’s book Blessings, Mainly Schoolings, designed by Abbey Monteiro and illustrated by Hannah Hill (Hanecdote), will be released on 30 October and can be pre-ordered and purchased via her Instagram @thenastypoet or website