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Ella Sadie is a writer and event producer currently residing in South London. Having spent most of Lockdown with her head in a book, we asked her for her top five reads...

Lockdown has been an interesting one for me. As a poet and a writer, I’m quite lucky that I’m able to delve into myself and find thoughts and emotions to pull out and keep creating, but quite often I can find myself going mad. My flat is full of plants, art and books; one of the things that I love doing when I feel on the verge of pulling my hair out is picking up one of my poetry books and reading a couple of poems aloud. I’m lucky to have a big collection but a lot can be found online using the Poetry Foundations website. I have been doing a ‘poem of the day’ on my Instagram and WhatsApp to close friends which I’ve found to be quite a nice way of breaking the days up and reaching out.

“A lot of people have the wrong end of the stick when it comes to poetry.”

They think only of Keats, Shelley and Byron and find it hard to understand but a lot of modern poetry, including prose and spoken word, is a lot more relatable, and easier to connect to.

It’s also had a massive influence on the hip-hop jazz scene that is flourishing all over the country, but most audibly in South London. With that in mind, here are my five poetry books to whet your appetite for an introduction into my kind of poetry.

American Sonnets for my Past and Future assassin

Terrance Hayes

Born in South Carolina, Terrance Hayes is one of the most interesting poets out there at the moment. Not only has he said F*** the system and created his own form of poem (one is called the Golden Shovel) but he constantly creates art that is not only sincere but a perfect snapshot of the world. This book is a collection of 70 modern sonnets (not the Shakespeare kind) that detail his thoughts and feelings in the lead-up and wake of Trumps Inauguration. I’ve read one a day.

More info here

Pamper me to Hell and Back

Hera Lindsay Bird

I am obsessed with Hera Lindsay Bird and as soon as you read her work you will too. She turns traditional uptight poetry on its head and does whatever she wants. She makes metaphors out of the mundane that make you cry with laughter and sadness. She sums up exactly what it feels like to be in angsty reluctant love with someone. Check her out, you won’t regret it.

Read her poetry and order books on her website

Don’t Call us Dead

Danez Smith

This collection by Danez Smith is a true testament to how incredible modern poets are. They use conventional forms, such as line breaks and stanzas, but their history as a slam poet comes through in the language and impact each piece has in this book. They also co-host the Poetry Foundations podcast and have narrated a couple of their poems so I would 100% recommend looking at that.

Order the book

The Year of the Monkey

Patti Smith

Queen of my heart and unashamed inspiration for me. The OG Godmother of punk poetry. Most of you have probably read Just Kids, but The Year of the Monkey is a triumph and a love letter to the wanderer. Through her, I travel outside the walls of my flat and escape into her travels. I wrote a poem about that feeling actually. You can also download the audiobook to hear her tell it to you.

Buy/Listen here

Let Me Out My Room, Please


Okay, this isn’t a book but it’s not cheating because not only is it incredibly, it’s a delicious treat for your eardrums you can stream from whatever you’re reading this on! This album can only be found on Bandcamp and mixes 19 up and coming poets to beats in the producer’s bedroom studio. Not only that but they’re littered with little snippets of conversation and musings which ties the whole thing together perfectly. When it came out I listened to nothing else for at least 3 months.

Listen/Download here

Ella Sadie is a poet, writer and performer living in her little creative world in South London. You can find her on Instagram @EllaSadieOG


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