Read: Kate Tempest , Hold Your Own

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

I have the biggest girl crush on Kate Tempest. Actually, scratch that 'girl crush' shit that's a bit belittling of genuine gay attraction, I have a crush on Kate Tempest full stop. Anyone who can manipulate words and make me feel things the way she does, I could pretty much fall head over heels in love with.

I only found out about Kate Tempest this year, which makes me feel rather late to the party. A friend had seen her show 'Brand New Ancients' at the Edinburgh Festival and was adamant we HAD to see it, which led to the huge schlep to Harrow Arts Centre this March, as pretty much all other London dates were already sold out. Hands down, Brand New Ancients is the best piece of theatre I have seen all year. It is Kate on stage with live musicians as she performs what is referred to on her website as an 'epic narrative poem'. Just her, alone, using words and rhythm, talking about ordinary people but also mixing every day reality with mythology and the idea that we are all Gods. I had goosebumps the whole way through and went straight home to purchase the play text from Amazon.

Everybody wants a piece of Tempest now. Having won the Ted Hughes prize for innovation in poetry for Brand New Ancients in 2013, this year she was awarded the status of a Next Generation poet and also nominated for the Mercury prize for her album, Everybody Down. 28 year old Tempest, a born and raised South-East Londoner, started out in music first, rapping anywhere and everywhere and often at bouncers according to her, and moved to poetry after that, only beginning to write for theatre in 2012. I mean my mind is blown by how much she has already achieved in that arena.

I could write more about Kate, but you know, Google. I wanna talk about Hold Your Own.
The book of poems is structured around personal memories and experiences of Kate and also Tiresias, a prophet from Greek mythology who lives many lives, as both male, female, blind, seeing, in and out of different worlds. He gets about, Tiresias, and is an excellent vehicle for talking about society.

My favourites are the ones Kate has written about her own life. The balance of relatable and eloquent is beautiful and she writes about female sexuality and love in a way that made me want old, intense, bad for me relationships again. She writes about school and being young and first love and real people. I've loved spoken word poetry for years, but Kate Tempest's blend of music and theatre, the everyday and mythology, has touched to me in a new way. Hold Your Own is the first book of poetry I have bought in years.

Here are some of my favourite extracts:

"They think we're bad kids.
We have nothing but fury and bass
and dead friends that keep us close to each other.
We're tied to our fate like it's mythical.
But nothing is certain."

(from Sixteen)

"I push my fist against theirs, my soft arms are clasped,
I'm embraced like a man, my back slapped,
and my heart all the time getting faster.
The beatboxer nods his respect.
And I'm feeling bigger than
all of these buildings.
I wait for my turn again,
everything burning."

(from The Cypher)

"The pond was calm
the sky was new
your voice was soft your lies were true.
You were me and I was you
and I was going blind with you."

(from Clapton Pond at dawn)

"I opened the window,
blew my smoke into the night,
passionately drunk.
In love with two women and playing charming as hard as I could."

(from India)

"Fuck the poem.

There's a bed here
and you want me in it."

(from Fuck the poem)

"I am faithful to the lessons you have taught me,
but they've flooded me with hungers I've not satisfied before.
And so I find myself breathless in a Brooklyn tranny bar
stunned by a woman who is kissing me like I am you."

(from Learning curve)

"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by payment plans."

(Sigh, in its entirety)

You can purchase Hold Your Own for £9.99 from her publisher Picador Poetry
Or Amazon like I did. Oops.

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