Sophia Thakur is a poet and spoken word artist from London, who’s created serious waves across the arts industry. She has performed her poems all across the world, including Glastonbury, Stylist’s Remarkable Women Awards, international conferences, and given multiple TED talks.
Sophia uses her platform to speak out about social issues including politics, race, gender and equality. Following the release of her first book Give This Heart a Pen last year, we caught up with her to find out more about her poems, writing process and career highlights. Read the full Q+A below 👇.
Sophia Thakur Q+A
Hey Sophia, how are you?
I’m well thanks! Fresh home from New York
Tell us a little bit about your most recent tour…
It’s been surreal, meeting so many corners of people’s hearts across the world with my baby (the book). From India to Ghana to Denmark the cultures are all so different but the behaviour of the heart rarely changes. That’s something I’ve found from speaking to audience members after a show. No matter which side of the world you reside, we’ve all accidentally on-purpose spoken to someone who wasn’t good for us. We’ve all experienced the euphoria of finally loving our reflection (even if it’s a fleeting moment). I come home to London and feel so much more connected to the melting pot of people around me each trip.
Your book contains a lot of raw and emotional poems, how do you feel now that it is out there in the world?
At first it was weird, knowing that my mum will suddenly have all the details of my breakup and struggle with mental health. But once I sunk into the fact that our truths are worth talking about, no matter how awkward it may be…the journey became super fun.
I still get nervous butterflies when people I know buy the book. More so than when strangers do! How weird is that? But it has been incredible to watch it grow wings and travel into the most unlikely hands. Seeing how that honesty is changing peoples lives for the better has made it all worth it.
Do you write specific poems to be performed and others to be read?
This was something I had to learn whilst writing the book. They are different practises! To write for the page is to write in a way that the poem will perform itself in the reader’s head. Whereas when I write to perform, I can show mood/ pace and intent through body language as opposed to punctuation and line-breaks. But I believe that all topics can be explored in both ways. I do write for wherever it’ll land!
Music plays a big part in your spoken word performance, how do you go about picking your tracks?
Sometimes the theme of the poem lends itself to a certain genre. For example I wrote this really political piece once and knew that I wanted it on music of the revolution…so free jazz or bashment/Hip-Hop.
Other times I might be listening to some really beautiful piano music and I’m led to write on a softer or more intimate topic, such as love or family. I come from a musical background so the music score is super important to me. My band always think I’m insane until show day and it all comes together so magically.
How do you find performing at a festival in comparison to intimate audiences?
The energy is just so different at a festival. When I stepped out at Glastonbury it was like a live wire went off inside me. I definitely had to be a more extraverted performer. The audience were electric and I wanted to keep them there.
At intimate shows we get really reeeally personal with the audience. The main feedback I get is that people feel like they are the only ones in the room with me for those hours I hold the stage. And I love that. How open we all get.
How do you like to unwind?
TRAVEL! I’m never too far from a ‘writing holiday’ which mainly consists of tanning for hours, swimming, eating and exploring new cities and people. And a spot of writing aha.
When I can’t get away I’m such a homebody. I visit family, my girls, the gym and binge watch rom-coms which often surprises people. I do love getting lost in a good novel too!
How important is it to use your platform to speak about topics you are passionate about?
Very! That’s paramount for me. So many people suffer silently and it breaks my heart when I hear these stories. The world is grossly unbalanced. Now especially. If talking about somebody’s experience can help liberate them in some way than I’ll live and die doing it. I truly believe that compassion can heal large parts of the world. If we just hear each others experiences more, we can come to understand the world we’re in and how we can make change. Even if it’s a small change. 7 billion small changes with the same focus towards equality could really do some magic.
If someone was to listen to one of your performances today, which should it be?
Hmm I’d say my IWD campaign for MTV on youtube. It’s a reminder that you’re the bee’s knees, no matter what life throws at you. You grow through what you go through and that makes you limitless.
Quickfire questions with Sophia Thakur 🔥:
Favourite comfort food 🥑
Chicken Wings. Ideally Korean, flat steamed.
Last book you couldn’t put down 📚
Deaf Republic!!! I had to put it down because I don’t want it to ever end.
Last TV show you binge-watched 💻
Riverdale (guilty pleasure)
3 Wardrobe staples 🛍️
Leather jacket. Khaki trousers/jeans/skirts and satin dresses.
Boss babe mantra 💪
Life can still be exactly as you imagined! Cultivate your dream living, if you can think it, you can action it.
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