23 Dec 2020

Bookmarks with Freya Daly Sadgrove

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 2:27 pm on 23 December 2020

Afternoon's final guest on Bookmarks for 2020 is Wellington writer and performer, Freya Daly Sadgrove - who published her first book of poems at the beginning of the year.

Freya joined the show to talk about her career as well as share her favourite books, films and music.

Freya Daly Sadgrove, photographed at Carlucci Land.

Freya Daly Sadgrove, photographed at Carlucci Land. Photo: Ebony Lamb

This audio is not downloadable due to copyright restrictions.

She says she feels like a whole different woman since her book came out in February.

“I had a joint launch with my friend Eamonn [Marra] and I feel so lucky that we got to have our big party.”

Freya says she was “a bit of a grump” when she was writing the book and it comes across in the cynical and self-loathing nature of many of the poems.

Like many young writers in New Zealand, she went through the Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University.

She says it was always a goal of hers to do the Masters there after her aunt did it when Freya was 13-years-old. However, upon finishing undergrad, she was looking at audition for the performing arts school Toi Whakaari.

“But then I had a kidney infection and was in hospital where I missed my audition. It was like life doing a thing on me that actually worked out really well. Not to say that I would’ve got into Toi Whakaari, but I was a little bit directionless when that happened.”

Her mother was the one who reminded her of her goal to do the MA at the Institute of Modern Letters and encouraged her to apply.

“I did that and then my life changed direction in a way that I feel really great about.”

Being a young poet in New Zealand comes with its fair share of knockbacks, and Freya was hit early on when she applied for the undergrad poetry workshop at IML and was rejected while all her friends got in.

“I reflected on my whole style and got way more cynical but got a little bit closer to finding my voice. I was a bit more assured when I applied the next year, and then I got in.”

Freya says that whenever something bad happens to her, which she says in her case is frequent, you get a bit stronger.

Freya’s Bookmarks picks:


Freya says she has a bit of a thing for children’s books and only reads two or three “adult books” in a year.

In the past, Freya has said she has always wanted to write for children but has never been kind enough.

“That was where I was for ages, and now I think I’m a little bit kinder. For the past decade or so I’ve had bad struggles with mental health, and I don’t think you can write for children if you don’t like yourself. Children’s writers need a generosity of spirit to give a warmth and hope.”

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.

“It’s the best thing that exists in my mind.”

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty.

“I think I might be her biggest fan. I think I might be verging on being a bit creepy with how much I love her.”


First Love/Late Spring by Mitski

“She gets you right in your viscera, I think. She’s a poet, I love her.”


Spy (2015)

“I love Melissa McCarthy. I think she’s a genius, I’ve never seen her not absolutely kill any role that she’s in.”

The Little Prince (2015)

“I’m quite nerdy about adaption because I think it’s like translation which is one of the most interesting things to me in the world.”

14e arrondissement (Paris Je T'aime, 2006)

“One bit in it is the most perfect piece of film ever.”

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