Kate Tempest Preview

I've been enjoying merging journalism with poetry in some freelance work I've been doing for a new website called Culture Whisper. With a team of other writers, we pluck the tastiest cultural events from what can be a bewildering smorgasboard of stuff happening and preview them for readers - before they are sold out.
Anyway, I'm going to start putting some relevant pieces I've written onto this blog  - here is the first. Do have a look at culturewhisper.com and consider signing up for a free, bespoke selection of events delivered into your inbox. Nothing to lose - and much to gain in terms of discovering a wealth of interesting, provocative theatre, art and music.

Kate Tempest - Brand New Ancients.

Royal Opera House

When: 03 Jan 14 – 10 Mar 14
If you like your poetry fresh, then look no further than the appropriately-named Kate Tempest who has blown a breath of fresh air through the literary establishment with her genre-busting show Brand New Ancients .
Merging spoken word with theatre and set over a live orchestral score, Brand New Ancients is like nothing you will have ever seen or heard before. 
Tempest, who started out rapping, as she admits, 'at strangers on night buses'  as a precocious 16 -year-old, weaves ancient myth and the modern register into a story of two London families which unrolls from her tongue in breathtaking lyrical flow:
‘The gods are in the betting shops, the gods are in the cafĂ©, 
The gods can’t afford the deposit on their flat … 
Winged sandals tearing up the pavement, 
Me, you, everyone, Brand New Ancients.’

Tempest’s London name-checks Lewisham and Peckham; hers is a city of office blocks and ‘caffs’, where people cannot stop checking Facebook or having unprotected sex.
And yet her poetry is suffused with gritty beauty as she re-defines the idea of ‘gods’ as those living amongst us, touching on the essence of what it is to be human in the 21st century.
Still just 27, Tempest deservedly won the prestigious Ted Hughes Poetry Award for New Work in Poetry earlier this year.  She is admired by poets and rappers alike for writing in poetic meter, while delivering her lyrics with all the rawness and urgency of hip-hop or rap. 
Comfortable in her battered blue jeans and Nikes, she is a far cry from the stuffy image of a tortured bard locked in an ivory tower. Yet like her poetic forebears, she is not afraid to pose deep questions of spirituality which have preoccupied thinkers for centuries. In redefining the boundaries of poetry, her modern-day gods play out their victories and defeats with untrammeled directness, forcing us to think about our own lives. 
Brand New Ancients is playing at  a string of venues across London and the UK, including the Young Vic on January 3rd, the South Bank Centre on January 29th and the Linbury Studio at the Royal Opera House on March 10th. Tickets really are selling like proverbial hotcakes, so grab the chance to listen to this modern-day truth teller while you can. 


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