Five minutes with… Sophia Blackwell


Sophia Blackwell is a writer and performance poet. She has two collections of poetry, Into Temptation and The Fire Eater’s Lover, and a novel, After My Own Heart.

She has over ten years’ experience of performing and compering at some of the UK’s biggest literature and music events, including regular appearances at Glastonbury, Edinburgh and Wilderness. Her writing has been anthologised by publishers such as Bloodaxe, Nine Arches and The Emma Press.

Sophia lives in London with her wife Heleana, where she runs a monthly literary event, obsesses over cake and vintage dresses, drinks too much coffee and read all the books.

What was the last book you read?

An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It, by Jessie Greengrass. A friend of mine at the publisher recommended it and it’s just extraordinary. It also includes a really messed-up story about a dolphin that I had to read twice just to make sure it really was that weird.

And what did you read it on?

In print book format. The cover’s hard to resist; I think I even bought it in the London Review Bookshop for added pretentiousness. I read probably just over half my books on my iPad. I used to have a Kindle but I wasn’t a fan of the design, it kept showing me pictures of Virginia Woolf for some reason.

What’s next on your reading list?

It’s a non-fiction book, The Hidden Pleasures of Life by Theodore Zeldin. I had the pleasure of working with him for a short time just after I graduated. I love the way he writes, and this sort of questing energy that fills his books; he’s always searching for meaning and magical stories.

What is your favourite book to screen adaptation?

Alfonso Arau’s film of Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. I also love A Clockwork Orange and Revolutionary Road, but in both cases I think the incredible production values of the screen versions come close to overpowering the stories.

Where is the best place to read in London?

My bed, but you can’t have it.

Go on, let us know your musical guilty pleasure…

Oh God, where do I start? My phone is like a musical walk of shame. I’ve got One Direction, Sean Paul, some 90s reggae and most of the Pitch Perfect soundtrack. I hate myself.

What would be the title of your autobiography?

I’m Not a Bloody Drama Queen.

What was your first job?

Terrible Italian Waitress.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

If we’re talking about legends, it would be the usuals- Liz Taylor, Frida Kahlo, Dorothy Parker, Tallulah Bankhead…but if I could have a wish for a day it would be to have Olivia Colman, Tamsin Greig and Sharon Horgan round for buckets of wine and all the pizza. So if you’re reading this, ladies…

Where would you most like to be right now?

An alternative reality in which Beyonce is President.

Sophia will be taking part in the Polari Soho Special celebrating its tenth birthday as part of London Book & Screen Week.

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