An Interview with Freya Daly Sadgrove

Freya’s debut poetry collection Head Girl smashed its way onto our top 10 here at Unity Books Auckland. It was as though the city could hear the echoes of raucous cheers from her launch at Unity Books Wellington and had to trample through our doors to pick up a copy and see what the fuss was about. Freya’s self-deprecating admission below that Head Girl is “probably my least mature and potentially…worst book” is untrue. Her lyrical profanity fuelled perspective on love and sex gives her poetry a penetrating, heart-warming spikiness. You won’t be able to put it down until you’ve read it over and over and over and over again. And again.

What does a day in the life of Freya Daly Sadgrove look like?

Feed my fish, drink a coffee, spam the group chat, do several hours of largely unpaid work interspersed with playing Spyro on my PS2, watch something very bad on Netflix, drink a cleanskin (not EVERY day mum), play a board game with my friends (also not every day  ), fall asleep in my underpants. You will notice: no shower. Whoops

Why did you dedicate your book to your enemies?

Uh oh, I knew this question would come at some point. It wasn’t always dedicated to my enemies, but I ended up feeling I had to change it very near the last minute. It was quite painful to do that, and in the spirit of the book I wanted to make myself laugh through the pain. I also figured that, being my first book and therefore probably my least mature and potentially… worst book, my enemies could have it. But to be honest I don’t really have enemies, it’s just a grumpy shorthand for the people who have hurt my feelings and therefore given me material to mine in the writing of the book. I figure a dedication is still ultimately a gesture of care – mine is just a very bad-tempered one. Plus, it’s a cool easter egg between me and Eamonn’s first books.

How does a visually pleasing title like “PACK MY ASS FULL OF WEED, LIGHT IT AND SMOKE IT THROUGH MY MOUTH” come to mind?

That may or may not have come from the mouth of one of my “enemies” – IF it was (it was), I promise I got their permission to use it. There are a few overheard lines in the book – I am always exasperating my friends by writing down things they’ve just said, or, more infuriatingly, things that I myself have just said. I’m a nightmare to be friends with, but I make up for it with… er, my sparkling wit

What poet’s book did you pick up and think yes please this is my kind of poetry I’m feeling inspired?

Oh, Hera’s. How could I not? How could anyone not, but honestly. I adore her writing, it is so generous and so peculiar and it gives me those thuds in my body, you know when you read something that just thuds home somewhere in the centre of your chest? And you become a more full and complete person. When you read a book of poems and you get stuck between wanting to put it down to write furiously and wanting to never ever put it down, that’s such a gift. Plus… I love poetry, but it can be so tiring. Hera’s poetry has never in its life been tiring.

What’s your wildest adventure yet?

I went ice skating on the Eiffel Tower when I was 17. I also went into the Paris sewers but we don’t need to talk about that. Also, when I was eleven I put 14 giant jaffas in my mouth at once

What’s your earliest memory of realising you could write poetry?

I was eight, I think. I wrote poems in a little purple notebook called “cnomical” – the ‘c’ was silent. I’d always loved writing stories and plays, and when I think about it, it must have been around then that someone showed me Laura Ranger’s book like, “look, here is a child who is published in a real book”. I was very envious, and I probably started writing poems to prove a point. Took me a while to prove it though.

Do you remember what your first ever poem was about?

The earliest poem I can remember, although I don’t think it was quite the first, was called “It’ll Do”. It was from the perspective of a shopkeeper showing a customer clothes to try on and finding that the customer preferred to choose their own. It rhymed and sucked.

How do you set yourself up for a day of writing?

Depends on what kind of writing. If I’m generating, I like being silly and inebriated about it, ideally with one or two writing friends. If I’m editing I have to be very sensible at a table, with not too many people around, because I yell when I am editing. Poems are hard.

Do you have a method of sorts that aids your creativity?

Falling in love, baybee. Poems are easy.

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