After choosing English Literature as one of my A Levels, it seems that I spend half of my time analysing poetry in great depth. The dreaded anthology, which earned itself a Facebook group of almost 50,000 members wholeheartedly devoted to its burning, has clearly ruined poetry for many young people. But as with dance, and many other things once deemed too uncool for school, the fire in these activities has been relit by the use of the word ‘street.’
Street poetry is a world away from, in my case, the nature shrouded world of poets such as Edward Thomas, somebody with whom very few people in the modern world, never mind young people, can relate to. This poetry speaks of life as it really is. Yet these poets know their roots. Often citing Greek Mythology, Shakespeare and other poetry greats of the past, the word ‘street’ does not limit them to the literary confines of the modern world.
And one very fine example of this is Kate Tempest. In November, at the Junction in Cambridge, her band, Sound of Rum, was one of three acts on the triple bill. I was amazed when I checked her out before, but nothing compare’s to their live performance. Their music can be described as a kind of tech-rock and rap fusion. Intricate guitar and bass parts created through the use of electric guitar and loop pedal, backed by some fairly basic drums. However, don’t let this fool you, when the drummer let loose for a solo, he managed to wow the crowd with some impressive talent on show. However, the woman who really stole the show was Kate Tempest. With lyrics sharp as knives, and passion that has the ability to leave you reeling, as she stands swaying in front of you, pouring her soul out, Kate Tempest has a unique ability to bring poetry to life. Her sensitivity, the feeling that at any moment, she will break into floods of tears, as what’s she’s saying is so real, and has such meaning with her, adds a completely fresh and new dynamic to poetry for me.
It is so easy to disregard poetry, as most of it is so hard to picture – whether it be Edward Thomas, to Wilfred Owen, older poems are so much harder to visualize, but Tempest brings her world to life with incredible dexterity and skill, and she deserves to be recognised. Here is one of her poems, titled ‘Pennies.’ ENJOY.