Yes, the gods are on the park bench, the gods are on the bus, / The gods are all here, the gods are in us. / The gods are timeless, fearless, fighting to be bold, / conviction is a heavy hand to hold, / grip it, winged sandals tearing up the pavement -- / you, me, everyone: Brand New Ancients.
Kate Tempest's words in Brand New Ancients are written to be read aloud; the book combines poem, rap, and humanist sermon, by turns tender and fierce. Set in Southeast London, Brand New Ancients finds the mythic in the mundane. It is the story of two half-brothers, Thomas and Clive, unknown to each other -- Thomas the result of an affair between his mother and Clive's father. Tempest, with wide-ranging empathy, takes us inside the passionless marriage of Jane and Kevin -- the man who suspects Thomas is not his son, but loves him just the same -- and the neighboring home of Mary and Brian, where betrayal has not been so placidly accepted. The sons of these two households -- quiet, creative Thomas and angry, destructive Clive -- will cross paths in adolescence, their fates converging with mortal fury.
These characters' loves, their infidelities, their disappointments and their small comforts -- these, Tempest argues, are timeless. Our lives and our choices are no less important than those of history and myth. Awarded the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry, Brand New Ancients insists on our importance as individuals -- and asserts Kate Tempest's importance as a talent impossible to ignore.
About the Author
Kate Tempest grew up in southeast London. She has had a varied career as a poet, playwright, rapper, and recording artist. Her new solo record, Everybody Down -- a concept album featuring characters from her debut novel, The Bricks That Built the Houses (Bloomsbury, Winter 16) -- is shortlisted for the 2014 Mercury Prize.Brand New Ancients, conceived as a performance piece, won the Ted Hughes Award in 2012 and in 2014 Kate was selected as one of this decade's 20 Next Generation Poets from the UK and Ireland. Her first poetry collection, Hold Your Own, will be published simultaneously.
Thrillingly good . . . Ms. Tempest stitches together words with such animate grace that language acquires an almost tactile quality, and the drama she unfolds . . . soars to operatic dimensions. . . . [An] hypnotically persuasive vision.
Breathe[s] new life into old classic forms; a long poem about us and the gods that's all high-kicking verve and long-range understanding. I loved its vision, powerful and merciful.
Feels as if we are . . . gathered around a hearth, hearing the age-old stories that help us make sense of our lives . . . The ordinary is lifted into the extraordinary.
A torrent of poetry so brilliant that the words often seem to glow and smoke with intensity . . . [Tempest] writes with brilliance, but above all with overwhelming love.
The most exciting contribution to poetry this year . . . Kate Tempest has created an ambitious, unforgettable mythology and made us look at the world afresh.
Feels as if we are . . . gathered around a hearth, hearing the age-old stories that help us make sense of our lives. . . The ordinary is lifted into the extraordinary.