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Brand New Ancients

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I really like Greek Mythology and loved how Kate played around with it, finding examples of ancient God’s in everyday people. The one thing Tempest did not manage to achieve quite so successfully, in my opinion, was the ‘plot’ of her poem and especially its links to ancient heroism.

I didn't want to read a story/poem about the intertwining fates of people trying to people and people trying to be monsters. The long poem chronicles the story of two families in south London and explores everyday heroism, family life, working-class life, the human condition, and myth. I really love the parallels between the storyline of the two generations and the one more abstract about the « gods of the every day». Brand New Ancients", their self-performed epic poem to a live score, won the Ted Hughes Award 2012 and the Herald Angel at Edinburgh Fringe.

This is a very short read, with stanzas musing on the constancy of the human condition and how we really haven’t come so far from the days when Zeus and Hera might have walked among us. I have bought her play "Wasted" which is also brilliant and I'm waiting for the new album which I have already heard so much of on Radio 6. Their debut novel, "The Bricks That Built The Houses", sold in a highly competitive auction to Bloomsbury and was published in territories including the UK, US, France, Holland and Brazil in Spring 2015.

I don't particularly want to discourage others from reading, just don't expect what I expected based on the other works I mentioned. Our blog is written by many different voices and, although everything we share is in line with our values, some of the views expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect the wider views of GWL.Brand New Ancients is the tale of two families and their intertwining lives, set against the background of the city and braided with classical myth. The blurb for Brand New Ancients praises Kate Tempest as one of the UK’s most innovative spoken word poets, and for once that praise seems both absolutely genuine and completely appropriate. Un poema che nasce per essere letto a voce alto e che fa della musicalità un elemento fondante e fondamentale del racconto. It suggests that this outcome could be avoided – like characters from the Greek mythology she draws upon, we all have the ability to become a hero or to become wicked, but it’s up to us how we choose to use this power. Here, Tempest shows how the old myths still live on in our everyday acts of violence, bravery, sacrifice and love – and that our lives make tales no less dramatic and powerful than those of the old gods.

It tells the story of normal people the reader could easily identify with, their stories contrasted against the idea that they have the importance of Gods and are more than the roles they’ve been given by society. And I have to add that reading this book with the author reading it + the music was excellent, it added a real tension, an authentic atmosphere.I do not generally seek out poetry as a genre but if this is what I have been missing, I need to find more. We can recognise the events which lead to these outcomes, and this could give us the tools and the insight to change the narrative to make the best of what could be a bad situation.

I read this in a single sitting, and that final line was a complete gut punch - I had to let out an audible breath when I finished! I'm well impressed with this one, reminds me at times of Ginsberg's Howl, the short lines, long lines and repetition give you a feeling of constantly changing direction. Now, we are informed at the beginning that this is poetry meant to be read aloud, and like song, I suspect, it carries a lot more punch, and its inadequacies are somewhat hidden, when performed by someone of talent. Frankly, it would be easy to dismiss some of her message, to be cynical or guarded, but I tried not to be, and I found a lot of wisdom and love in what she was saying. Please read this poem, and read it out loud if you can; it will leave you broken and hopeful and shocked and empowered all at the same time.I really wanted to like this idea but couldn’t help being a bit disappointed in the end because I felt that the two sides of it – the ancient myths and the variations of modern-day heroism – were only loosely connected. Tempest’s work as a rapper is clear, and I think Brand New Ancients works best read aloud to really appreciate the work that has gone into crafting this poem. I've never, in some seriousness, felt the absence of international socialism, or failing that just some vision or abstraction or sense of possibility, more.

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