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Sonny Hall: "I'm a sponge, I absorb everything I see and hear"

R is Ryan Doyle, who introduces himself as an old friend, artist, filmmaker. And S, it's Sonny Hall, poet. They gave us their last conversation.
Reading time 9 minutes

R - Ryan Doyle - Old Friend, Artist, & Film Maker 

S - Sonny Hall - Poet 

 

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R - I must say you’re Looking awful smart today. Where’s the  jacket from ?

 

S -Mr John Pierce 

 

R- What book are you clutching to?

 

A - Crazy Cock By Henrry Miller

 

R - never see you without a book by your side. Is there anything else you can’t leave home without?

 

S - Cigarette my pen and note book

 

R - So what corners has Mr Hall been to over the last few days?

 

S - Where have I been in my head or what else ?

 

R- Whatever is more immediate ?

 

S - Went to the 606 cub last night and preparing to go to Paris tomorrow while my head is entangled in a new poem right now.

 

R - What poem would that be ?

 

S - It is called “Winning over a defeatist”

 

R - You have lots of tattoo’s one of which is 616. What dose that mean to Sonny?

 

S -  It stems from a family of friends, that took me in when I was a lost 16 year old boy. We have all grown together. My brother, Bakar is one of them and has just put out a really exciting EP.

 

R - What do you think would be the spot of choice right now? 

 

S - Cafe La Boheme 

 

R - Ah the place that does it all, Jazz and food! I feel we are drawn to places that have a forgotten romanticism. I think we’d both agree there are these places that feel like you’ve gone back in time in London, do you think this is true?

 

S - Yeah, completely. But it’s sad in a way. It feels as if it’s a constant search for these type of places, more and more. The true character seems to be dying, but with that, I think the old ways then frantically fall together in very certain sweet spots around London. 

 

R - I remember poetry has always been something that I remember you being fascinated with. Was there a specific turning point ?

 

S - Yeah...Around 2 and a half years ago, in rehab I started writing a journal out of simply taking part of the rehab program that I had been strongly advised to follow. However I swiftly felt unfulfilled by writing day to day occurrences, in such a straight forward way. So I began writing ordered gibberish, with all my honesty and frankness and soon came to realise it was poetry.

 

R - You seem to have taken little pockets of inspiration from all over. Whether it is a strange encounter to how a place makes you feel. Do things like the music you’ve been listening to or what emotion you are feeling most strongly that day resonate in your writing?

 

S - Always. Everything and anything, I’m a sponge to all I see and hear and that creates an abundance of feelings that are sometimes violent, sometimes blissful and most of the time, both of those things. The conflict creates a tight rope kind of itch, urging me to write purely in order to process all of life’s happenings. 

 

 R - Jazz Structure? Characters such as Moses from portobello?

 

S - Jazz gives me an extra fuel to write freely and sporadically, it rationalises the speed of my brain ticking over ...which eases the intensity of my thoughts. Moses is a wise, fellow crazy that has been through many wars. We always speak when passing ships within each others mania and he owns my book, which has been greatly beaten down through his vagabond style of living. 

 

R - I’ve always thought that some of the truth and clarity in your writing comes from your self-education as a poet and writer. Do you think being self-taught has changed your writing style ?

S - Completely, I fell into it so naturally at a time of great need. I don’t know anything about the traditional values of poetry nor do I care about them. I just read and write and some of my heroes, like Henry Miller, are self taught also.  

 

10. R - We always talk about being present in a situation and being honest, does this catharsis of writing help?  

 

S - I’ve found in the last couple of years, that the only real way to operate is within true candour. Otherwise everything goes out the window, being present is a fucker, at times. But writing helps me to do all of these things, at once. 

 

R - You interact with people in a different way to most. You pay attention to everyone and seem to find yourself having a chat with all different sorts of people. Why do you think you find yourself drawn to people who are completely different to you?

 

S - Because I can empathise with all sides of life. Being adopted at the age of 4 from a drug ridden working class family into a hard working middle class family, let me see two parts of life and family dynamics. Complete turmoil to measured and momentary bliss, due to a certain attentiveness and love, I was given quite foreignly post adoption.

 

R - You’ve certainly seen a few things. Especially the last few years, getting sober and everything. How long has it been again?

 

S - Two and a half years 

 

R - You always tell me of these strange and wonderful situations you manage to get yourself into, are there any that come to mind straight away?

 

S - Weird things happen everyday, I’ve gotta remember ...

The photo shoot with Josephine and Adam was more than interesting 

 

R - How did you meet Josephine De Le Baume? 

 

S - The photographer Adam had the ground breaking idea of the shoot as he is good friends of us both. But we ended up meeting in Paris a few days before. 

 

R - Seeing you back then and now, you seem to have more clarity in this confusing world?

 

S - I would have never thought back then that I would have a published book, have the support from Kate and her agency and also the ability to work on the projects that are ahead of me. I’ve been supported by a lot of special people that held me when I didn’t posses so much clarity and then when I truly found. 

 

R - Kate is from a generation of through and through Londoners. It seems like you might’ve fallen from the same tree. Do you think this is true? 

 

S - Well we are both from south London and I love her and everything she stands for.

 

R - Long gone are the bohemian days of Sonny. I doubt you’d ever have thought 4 years ago that we’d be sitting here today talking about all of these things?

 

S - Yes I don’t solely live the life of a vagabond now but the fire of that type still lives in me. 

 

R - It’s amazing how much you’ve achieved from putting the energy elsewhere, changing your habits and of course publishing ‘The Blues Comes with Goodnews’ Does it feel good to have a physical achievement for your wordsmithing, especially with illustrations in from the fine man Jack Laver?

 

S - Having Jack alongside me throughout this process couldn’t have felt more right. We went to school together and he’s my oldest friend. When sitting down to execute the illustrations, he came to me with a bunch of drawings and those were the concrete ones we chose for the book, immediately. We are cut from the same soggy cloth.

 

R - Just so people know where can they grab their copy?

 

S - In my favourite book shop Shakespeare & Co in Paris and most book shops also amazon online.

 

R - You got to say a few words at the launch of  Maragaret Atwood’s new book the other day. How was that?

 

S - Completely surreal and a triumph to my voyage through writing. I couldn’t of been more nervous. 

 

R - I remember we discussed plans for the future – anything you can say about your next publication?

 

S - Its not defined in any way but there is a lot more to come 

 

R - Right well guess this is the end. You want to grab a coffee?

 

S - Only cause your Irish 

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