For Books’ Sake Talks To: Sarah Thomasin

24th Mar 2011


We talked to poet and spoken word performer Sarah Thomasin about poetry, performing, and Margaret Thatcher as an octopus:

FBS: Tell us who you are and what you do?

ST: By day I’m a sexual health promotion worker and supply teaching assistant. I’m originally from Keighley, but now live in Sheffield with my wife, Chella Quint . I’m quite passionate about queer politics, sex positive feminism and the arts. I also love baking cupcakes.

I mostly write and perform funny very structured poems about politics, news stories and the contradictions, ironies and surrealities of life that catch my attention. I’m a real geek about rhyme and metre. I love sonnets and sestinas, but am starting to foster a true hatred for the villanelle.

FBS: What got you into writing and performing?

ST: I’ve always been able to memorise verse easily and really enjoy clever song lyrics. I first got praised for poetry when I was 9 and wrote a poem about space.

My first political poem was written when I was 12 about Margaret Thatcher being an octopus. The sheer amount of praise and attention I got for doing this meant I was hooked.

I didn’t start performing however until Chella wrote a zine called Adventures in Menstruating and we started doing readings from it. The poems I had contributed went down really well, so I started to do more poetry stuff independently.

FBS: What would you say are your main influences?

ST: Roald Dahl, Tom Lehrere, They Might Be Giants, Steven Lynch, Marriott Edgar, Pam Ayres, Meryn Cadell, Flanders and Swann, The Mersey Poets and Circus of Poets.

FBS: What would you recommend to anyone interested in writing spoken word/ poetry?

ST: Find an open mic night near you and do it! Have a go. Its over quickly and you’ll either love it or hate it, but at least you’ll know. Also, as an open mic compère I implore you: try a short piece first. Obey the etiquette of the event. Do some research. Try and read the crowd.

FBS: Tell us about the open mic night you are involved in?

ST: Speak Easy is the brainchild of Circus of Poets veteran John Turner, and is run by him, me, and poet and Shakespeare wrangler Maria Kardel.

It’s primarily a poetry night but any spoken word or music that doesn’t take too much time to set up is welcome. Slots are five minutes long and strictly enforced.

It’s a friendly, irreverent and really quite bizarre night. We tend to have a vague theme, which is mostly ignored, but keeps us amused. This month it’s ‘The Sky’s The Limit’. We also have a featured performer at every night.

Speak Easy Sheffield takes place on the final Tuesday on the month in A-Pod, upstairs in Hallam Union. Its free to get in, and kicks off about 7.30. The next one is on March 29th, and anyone wanting to book a slot in advance should email

Jess Haigh