Born and bred in South-East London, performance poet Kate Tempest has supported acts such as John Cooper Clarke, Scroobius Pip and Billy Bragg. She has also performed to homeless people and in prisons, having started out ‘rapping at strangers on night busses and pestering mc’s to let her on the mic at raves’.
Temple’s disarmingly unassuming English-rose appearance belies a truly bewitching, lyrical performance style which mixes intimacy with passionate conviction. She speaks – sometimes almost seems to sing – about social issues which are all too often forgotten in today’s music. Last year, she won the Ted Hughes award for innovation in poetry, a ground-breaking achievement in a world where performance poets are often not taken nearly seriously enough as artists. It is so easy to forget that once, spoken poetry was almost the only form of poetry. It is the oldest and most powerful of arts. Tempest’s mingling of poetry and theatre sees her joining an oral literary tradition that leads back through Chaucer to the Medieval lyricists and Classical dramatists, but with the energy of hip-hop.
In the Prologue to her award-winning show Brand New Ancients she addresses it to the ‘plight of a people who have forgotten their myths, and imagine that somehow, now is all there is’. The show is a modern-day epic following two South-East London families as their lives intertwine, set over the backdrop of an orchestra. The guy with big glasses and a scarf selling me books at the Royal Court Theatre said I have to see it.
Kate Tempest comes to the North Wall on the 25th and 26th of February.