Ten Minutes with Greta Bellamacina
Last week, the multi-faceted poet, actress and model, Greta Bellamacina (@gretabellamacina), enchanted London’s avid poetry fanatics by hosting an evening of live poetry at UO Marble Arch in celebration of the launch of her latest book, ‘Selected Poems 2015-2017’. Tirelessly crafting poetry that perfectly encapsulates the complexities of modern life, Bellamacina is utilising the power of art to bring light to important issues. Here, we put our questions to the up-and-coming poet…
Tell us a little bit about how your previous collection of poetry, ‘SMEAR’, came to be…
I wanted to make a book that a mother could buy for her daughter, but also that a daughter could buy for her mother. I think there is so much misunderstanding between the generations and I wanted to reach across that bridge. So, the youngest poets in the book are in their teens and the eldest poets are in their 70s.
So, how did you decide which poets to include within the book?
As always, the poems decided, not the poets. The music of the voice has to work! I want to read work that escalates, that brings the world alive, that makes reality feel fresh. I don’t care who it’s written by.
What effect do you hope your latest work has on others?
I hope it really gives an honest picture of the heart.
On that note, which poem has had the most profound effect on you?
I’ve always loved the poem ‘Lovesong’ by Ted Hughes, taken from his collection of poems entitled ‘Crow’. Also, Alice Oswald’s collection ‘Woods etc.‘
What are you currently reading, listening to or looking at to fuel your work?
At the moment, I’m currently listening to a lot of John Lennon and Patti Smith live recordings. I’m also reading Susan Bradley Smith’s new collection ‘The Postcult Heart’. It’s filled with waterfalls of lost love. Susan always manages to find the sunlight in the dark places we find ourselves living in.
What are you most proud of in your life?
I am proud of starting New River Press with Robert [Montgomery]. We did a New River night at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival a few weeks ago. I looked around the packed room and suddenly felt a way of love and collective hope around me. Jeremy Reed and Ana Seferovic punching the air with their words, a room full of electric, specific thoughts and honest, unafraid language.
Of all the advice you’ve received throughout the years, which piece has influenced you the most?
William Burrough’s once said, “Build a good name, never compromise, eventually the name will have it’s own currency.” I think if you’re an artist of any kind, it can sometimes be disheartening to put your heart on the line. But you just need to do everything with your full heart and not worry about anything else. The more uncool, the better.
Is there any advice you’d give to young, aspiring creatives?
I would recommend performing your work in public. I think it gave me the confidence to keep getting better and to keep refining my voice. It’s also invaluable to hear an audience’s immediate response to your work. There’s something really electric about letting your words come alive, just by speaking them aloud.
What piece of literature do you wish you’d have written?
‘The Wasteland’ by T.S. Eliot.
What three things could you not live without?
Robert Mongomery is my guardian angel, he is my heartbeat. My son Lorca is my sunlight. And just the beauty and kindest of strangers.
What song or album would be the soundtrack to your life?
The album ‘On The Beach’ by Neil Young or the song ‘Every Time The Sun Comes Up’ by Sharon Van Etten.
So Greta, tell us, what’s next for you?
My poetry collection ‘Selected Poems 2015-2017’ is currently being translated into Spanish – the book comes out later this year, published by Valparaiso Ediciones. I’ve been working with a translator for the past eight months. It’s been a really interesting experience! I feel like I’ve almost had a parallel universe stare back at me. I’ve learnt so many things about myself from the whole process. I’ve also got lots of exciting readings coming up this summer at The Curious Arts Festival and the National Poetry Library on the Southbank. I’m also about to shoot my debut feature film, ‘Hurt By Paradise, in London next month. It’s been two years in the making! I can’t wait to get in to the worlds of the characters and bring them alive in light, shadows and laughter.