Hailing from South East London, Kate Tempest is my ultimate literary heroine. I have cherished her multi-award winning poems, albums, novel and plays throughout my teenage years. As an aspiring writer, poetry fanatic and largely spurned liberal, Tempest’s passion, intellect, fury and creative genius continues to enlighten and inspire me.
I first came across her work in 2014, when songs from her newly released spoken word poetry album Everybody Down were broadcasted on Auckland’s student radio station 95bfm. I was immediately mesmerised by her relentless delivery of biting, gorgeous political prose laced with insightful humour, set against electronic hip hop which enhanced the imagery and emotion. It was electrifying. I had never heard such a powerful and flawless fusion of music and poetry before, transcending both art forms. I was thirteen.
Let Them Eat Chaos, Tempest’s second album, was released two years later. This was a darker and more political work, equally as impressive as its predecessor. Its ominous tone appealed to my sense of fatalism at the time. Covering issues from Brexit to climate change, the album concluded with an urgent and emphatic humanist message emphasising the importance of unity and unconditional love. This gave me hope and strength, especially as my school environment is not that encouraging of progressive ideas. Tempest’s compelling novel The Bricks That Built the Houses was also published in 2016. In this, she retold the narrative of Everybody Down, providing further insight into the characters their journey. I loved this unique, extended portrayal of the same figures and story across different mediums. In admiration, I chose to read an excerpt from the book at my school’s speech finals (I didn’t win). I was fifteen.
I would mutter Tempest’s words walking from class to class, in the shower, when I was trying to sleep… Even though I don’t listen to her music as much these days, I still have almost entire albums committed to memory. I will always be grateful for and respect Kate Tempest’s style and expansive body of work. Her words, achievements and power helped to shape me as an individual, and in my mind are truly legendary.
– Frances Belt
Girl Museum Inc.