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Breathing life, one poem at a time


Modern poet

Let’s be honest, the car park of a derelict looking warehouse in the depths of Bermondsey, South London is the last place you’d expect to meet a poet. This is Britain after all. Our rich history of poets is lined with sprawling back gardens or country walks so green and lush they induce a rush of words to the head for the famous scribes in question. This is 2024 though, and thanks to 33-year-old Greta Bellamacina, poetry is taking on a new form.

You could say it’s never felt more radical. Especially as Greta, who looks like the lead singer of a band or like she could be in a Gucci ad, makes her way across the dampened car park to greet Semaine. Appearances aside, poetry is a river that runs deep for Bellamacina. She’s no overnight sensation writing poems for the sake of it. The Camden born creative has been writing since she was a teenager with success coming her way throughout her twenties.

In 2013, she was shortlisted as The Young Poet Laureate of London. Just last year she edited British Contemporary Love, a collection of romantic poems published by powerhouse Faber & Faber. Oh, and she’s also had two other collections of poetry published, Kaleidoscope and Nature’s Jewels.

She’s also known for breathing new life into poetry readings across London. This isn’t hard to imagine as she whisks us from the car park up into the warehouse in all of her it-girl glory. Seconds later and we are stood in the heart of her work and all that fashionable girl nonsense falls out of the window. We are in the studio she shares with long-term partner Robert Montgomery. There are various quotes and excerpts from their poems all over the walls and a bookshelf stacked with the work of influencers. There is depth here. Poets sharing a studio space? Like we said, this is 2016.

Bellamacina and Montgomery, who have recently had a son (their first child), are in the midst of launching New River Press, a publishing company dedicated to pushing the boundaries of what poetry means today particularly for a younger audience and as Bellamacina puts it herself: “We want to launch a place for poetry that doesn’t exist yet”.

A few more moments later, on the cosy sofa in the centre of their studio and Bellamacina is in full swing. “We were always really annoyed poets never get paid,” Bellamacina says bluntly with a coffee now firmly in her hand. “Out of every single art form, it just seems that there is a weird stigma between poetry and money. Even if you are with one of the best poetry publishers ,you still don’t always get a reward.”

Then there’s both Bellamacina’s and Montgomery’s need to go against the tradition of poetry by selecting individuals who aren’t afraid to bleed their minds on to the page. “We were looking for a certain amount of frankness,” she says of her portfolio of poets. “We have Zimon Drake. His poetry is a collection that he has written over 30 years. He’s the type of person that doesn’t do social media, doesn’t do all that stuff. He’s too much of a punk to self-promote himself. His stuff has obviously changed throughout the years but what he is saying is still similar. Overall, we want that authenticity.”

With social media being mentioned, it would be silly not to touch on it. Will New River Press be a part of redefining how poetry is pushed through those channels? In the same way artists, filmmakers or new age chefs garner followings on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, will Bellamacina push to define what it means to be a poet today?

“I’m always really intrigued by people’s tolerance for words on social media,” she admits. “I went into this PR meeting the other day and was asked for ‘snackable poems’. I was like ‘if it works, i’ll do it’ but if it doesn’t resonate then I won’t. It’s so good to challenge that platform itself though. You just have to think outside the box. I was talking to someone and actually words are the most re-grammed thing on Instagram. I guess because they are so multifaceted and take on so many different meanings for different people.”

If one thing is clear, from both that answer and through spending time with Bellamacina, it’s that its more about the actual work and less about becoming an internet sensation. This young poet has made her name not through a number of online followers but through the progressive themes that run through her work: heartbreak, feminism and more recently motherhood. She’s now mother to four-month old son Lorca.

“I’ve written a lot about the process of being pregnant,” she says proudly. “I found it incredibly refreshing. You spend so much time projecting and this was the one time I felt almost meditative. I felt connected to another soul which belonged to me. I had such a strong reaction to being pregnant that I realised so many other poets I love had done that too, like Sexton and Plath. Loads of their poems are about being pregnant and it was odd that I’d never associated those poems with that until after I’d had a child.”

Poetry aside, Bellamacina is also making waves as a film maker. Last year, Soho Revue Gallery showcased her documentary about Ezra Pound’s 90-year-old daughter, Mary De Rachewiltz. Now though, she is in the midst of completing The Safe House: A Decline of Ideas a feature length documentary that focuses on the current decline of public libraries in Britain.

“I know its been going on for ages but now feels like a particularly tense time,” Bellamacina explains. “There’s loads of cuts across the arts. Libraries and universities are putting a lot of pressure on the next generations. So many people have been able to educate themselves through the libraries and its different now. I was really appalled by this. I was talking about this to Stephen Fry randomly and he was like ‘I love the libraries. I’d love to do a film together’.”

And so Stephen Fry does make an appearance in the documentary. As does Greta and partner in crime Robert’s trip back to Scotland to the first ever public subscription library of Britain. Like we said, there’s a depth when it comes to Bellamacina. A constant desire to explore the bigger picture of poetry. It’s not just reading from a scruffy notebook when it comes to her work. The New River Press company, the documentaries and the readings in a more contemporary settings. For her, it’s clearly about going as big and as large as possible.

And we all know that the best way to make an impact today is to say and do it like you really, really mean it.

By Alistair Mulhall for Semaine.


The Seagulls are low planes on fire

Embark on a literary journey through curated selections that reflect Greta's unique aesthetic and poetic sensibilities.

The Vexation Dress,

The Vampire's Wife


The Last Poets Oversized Jumper,

Bella Freud


Harold Desk,

The Future Perfect


BIC Original Pens,



A4 Writing Paper,



A Hundred Years,


9093 Kettle,



90's Mini Office Lamp,




Wandering the world with Greta

You don’t necessarily have to go far to find Greta when she’s off on her travels, she might still be in London. Places of history, libraries or iconic institutions are this girl’s fave hotspots to check into.

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A picturesque medieval town characterized by its charming cobbled streets, historic buildings, and stunning views over the surrounding countryside and coastline.


East Sussex ,

United Kingdom

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An iconic and eclectic establishment known for its vibrant, artistically adorned rooms, fostering a unique and creative atmosphere beloved by travelers and locals alike.

Carlton Arms Hotel,

New York,

The United States of America

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Standing as a hallowed institution, it offers a sanctuary of knowledge and inspiration.

London Library,


United Kingdom

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Nestled by the tranquil Hampstead Heath, it echoes with the lingering whispers of John Keats' immortal verses, offering a poignant glimpse into the life and poetic legacy of one of England's most cherished Romantic poets.

Keats House,


United Kingdom

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Originally built in 1933, it has a distinctive Art Deco architectural style. The hotel is situated on the beachfront, offering picturesque views of the North Sea.

Thermae Palace,



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It showcases donated personal items with accompanying stories, offering a poignant exploration of love, loss, and human connection through the lens of past relationships.

The Museum of Broken Relationships,



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A destination on the Ligurian coast rich in cultural attractions, natural beauty and traditional delicacies.





Greta's bookshelf.

Just exactly what does an accomplished poet read when she’s read everything? Well, she reads them again. Plus some newbies for you to take note of here…

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A Season in Hell,

Arthur Rimbaud


A poetic journey through the tumultuous inner landscape of the poet's soul, exploring themes of existential anguish, spiritual crisis, and the quest for artistic and personal redemption.

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By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept,

Elizabeth Smart


An intensely emotional novel-in-verse, delving into the passionate and tumultuous affair between Smart and the poet George Barker, exploring themes of love, desire, longing.

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I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp,

Richard Hell


A candid and reflective memoir chronicling the author's journey through the vibrant punk scene of the 1970s.

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Pour Me: A Life,

AA Gill


A darkly humorous memoir that navigates the journey of addiction, redemption, and self-discovery.

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Tender Napalm,

Philip Ridley


A provocative and surreal play, intertwining the intense, poetic dialogue of a couple in a surreal landscape.

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The Road Not Taken and Other Poems,

Robert Frost


A timeless collection showcasing the poet's mastery of capturing the complexities of human experience through vivid imagery and profound reflection.

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The Waste Land,

T.S Eliott


A modernist poem that explores the fragmented nature of post-World War I society, delving into themes of spiritual desolation, cultural decay, and the quest for redemption amidst a barren wasteland of civilization.

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Woods etc.,

Alice Oswald


A collection of poems that intricately weave together the beauty and mysteries of nature.


Watch, learn, read.

Movies like Wim Wenders’ ‘Wings of Desire’ or the documentaries she makes herself are all part of Greta’s favourite things to watch or read.

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A documentary exploring the complex history of Afghanistan and its impact on global politics.

Bitter Lake,

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Directed by Luca Guadagnino, the film depicts the transformative journey of a wealthy Italian family through love, passion, and societal expectations.

I Am Love,

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A thought-provoking documentary that delves into the erosion of intellectual discourse and critical thinking within contemporary society, examining its implications on democracy and social cohesion.

The Safe House: A Decline of Ideas,

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A poetic masterpiece that explores the longing for human experience through the eyes of angelic beings observing life in Berlin.

Wings of Desire,


Travel Guide

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Ten Questions.

From Joy Division classics to being a mother to her son Lorca, here are the things in life that really make Greta tick.

What is your favourite thing about being a woman?

If you lost the ability to write, what else would you do?
Be a painter, make films, make art.

What would you save from your studio in a fire?
A polaroid picture album I have been making over the past year.”

What is your greatest virtue?

Who would you most like to make a documentary about?
A fly on the documentary on how amazing the NHS is.

What music would you play if you had your own radio show?
Joy Division, Bong Water, Cat Power, Bronski Beat.

Happiness is…
…being able to make up your own time.

What’s one thing you’ve written about the most?

What’s your favourite word?

Give us one quote that you feel really defines you (from your own poetry or from a hero poet of yours).
“To die with horses wouldn’t be so bad” by Zimon Drake.

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