by Edsard Driessen
Sonny Hall’s poetic success has come seemingly out of nowhere: his debut collection, published in April 2019, went on to sell over 1.5 thousand copies within its first few months of release. Having begun his poetic journey while in a rehabilitation centre in Thailand for addiction issues, Hall’s words are raw, fresh and incredibly honest, and his nonchalant approach to writing has garnered a healthy fan base, with stylist.com branding him as the new ‘poetry poster boy’. But what is it about this new collection which has attracted so many, and what does it mean for poetry in a modern age?
Hall’s debut collection provides a stark introspection into the poet’s deeper thoughts and ideas. His words are brash, to say the least and move away from the timid romanticism traditional poetry has been labelled with. Instead, we are offered a free verse style which is incredibly colloquial and relies heavily on the cockney rhyming slang native to his home of London. This London attitude too becomes incredibly noticeable within his writing, honestly approaching sensitive topics about his upbringing, battles with addiction and his rise to stardom with a comedic savagery. His verses illustrate the sensibility of a poet who is tackling difficult adult themes with a schoolboy naivety; cleverly combining highbrow, educated terminology with commonly heard London slang, coming together to create a universal language which touches readers of every background, age and ethnicity.
Many of the poems within the collection demonstrate Hall’s extremely clever free-flowing rhythmic style, where words come at you like a London crowd, unrelenting and hastily fast. Most of the poems are unpunctuated which reminds one of the works of Joyce or Woolf, creating a stream of consciousness where nothing is left between himself and the reader. His work is pockmarked with a staccato rhythm which becomes his signature, building up climax within his poems through the interchange of short rapid fire words with longer introspective insights. Through this exchange, Hall develops a real concept of conversation within his poems which illustrate, on paper, the kind of real-life conversations we come across within the cities we may personally have experienced. Sonny’s poetry is raw and real and that is what makes his work so fascinating. His style is approachable and easily digested and adds a much-needed layer of pop-culture to an archaic art form. Above all, his poetry is so powerful because he is an observer. Hall is able to blend the real with the surreal and offers us everyday observations twisted with his own imagination. We see familiar locations like Trafalgar Square or Piccadilly Circus observed with a poetic twist to create a familiar but simultaneously foreign landscape. His collection is refreshing and desperately needed as an example of what poetry can be within the modern age, his work speaks largely for itself and I look forward to reading where he takes us next.