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- When Hip Hop Met Poetry: An Urban Love Story
- 5 poems that every Russian knows by heart - Russia Beyond
- When Ure Heart Turns Cold
Her spoken-word performances have the metre and craft of traditional poetry, the kinetic agitation of hip-hop and the intimacy of a whispered heart-to-heart.
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At a time when pop music is largely muted on social issues, Tempest deals bravely with poverty, class and consumerism. She does so in a way that not only avoids the pitfalls of sounding trite, but manages to be beautiful too, drawing on ancient mythology and sermonic cadence to tell stories of the everyday.
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Like Mike Skinner, when he sat on the top floor of a tower block and promised to "use war and past injury as my metaphor and simile" , or Allen Ginsberg yelling at his legendary Six Gallery reading of Howl , Tempest understands that the power of language is as much in the telling as the script. Last month she became the first person under 40 to win the Ted Hughes award for innovation in poetry. She won for her piece Brand New Ancients , an hour-long "spoken story" with orchestral backing, in which Tempest imagines a world where we are all gods.
A week later at London's Southbank Centre, Tempest recalls her surprise at winning.
She is about to perform at Hayward Gallery's Light Show exhibition , for which eight poets have been commissioned to write a response to a specific installation. Sitting in the bar beforehand, Kate is dressed in Adidas tracksuit and trainers, every word she says doused in her south London lilt. But it's not shyness, she is just doing what she does best: choosing her words.
There is something wonderful about the artistic temperament and people that make real honest work — it's heartwrenching. Tempest grew up in Brockley "what I've always loved about south-east London is that it's a bit shit and it's never going to be anything other than a bit shit". She was obsessed with books and reading, and always had a desire to perform. When she discovered hip-hop, it ignited her passion for language and rhythm. She would spend hours in her local record shop as a teenager, listening to Wu-Tang Clan, Roots Manuva and local grime artists.
When Hip Hop Met Poetry: An Urban Love Story
With rappers, you've got nothing, just your bars [lyrics]. And you want to show your bars are the biggest.
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I went mad for two years, I could not be shut up. At raves, somebody would be on stage and I would be like, 'Nah, this guy needs to see me rap,' and I'd try and wrestle the microphone.
5 poems that every Russian knows by heart - Russia Beyond
Especially with the way I looked, I was invisible. But what I could do once I had the microphone … it was a really infectious feeling of changing people's minds and suddenly being part of something, suddenly being respected. Now she also dabbles in playwriting and rap, and is in the band Sound of Rum. On the day she won the Ted Hughes award, she arrived straight from Holloway women's prison where inmates had been watching her perform. I realised that these phrases, which were never supposed to be about incarceration, were exactly about that.
They were just landing in this particular way because of where I was and who I was talking to. Not all the responses to her work have been positive. Tempest says: "One university lecturer played a video of me performing What We Came After , ironically a poem about reclaiming language from the academies.
Then he read the poem out himself and said, 'See it's not a poem, because when I read it, it doesn't sound like that. Do you remember an Inn, Miranda, Do you remember an Inn? And the hip! Of the clap Of the hands to the twirl and the swirl Of the girl gone chancing, Glancing, Dancing, Backing and advancing, Snapping of the clapper to the spin Out and in— And the ting, tong, tang of the guitar!
When Ure Heart Turns Cold
Never more; Miranda, Never more. Only the high peaks hoar: And Aragon a torrent at the door. No sound In the walls of the halls where falls The tread Of the feet of the dead to the ground, No sound: But the boom Of the far waterfall like doom. Back to Poems. Poem Activity.
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Print poem. Poem Activity Have fun with the poem by trying this Tarantella by Hiliare Belloc.