Friday, June 19, 2015

Book Review: Brand New Ancients by Kate Tempest

This is one long poem by Kate Tempest based on modern gods in general rather than what she did in Hold Your Own,  where many poems focused on one figure in specific, Tiresias. I followed her directions this time and read it aloud to myself, which brought out the colors of Tempest's internal rhymes and unexpected rhythms. Tempest's language is musical and even Homeric.

As for what she's really saying with her language, the closest thematic analogue I can think of is Neil Gaiman's American Gods, which is one of my favorites of Gaiman's. The reason why Tempest writes what she writes intrigues me in the same way as American Gods did. This seems to be like what Owen Barfield called "putting things back together" but from a standpoint of polytheism and ancient Empire rather than from a standpoint of monotheism and ancient community in rebellion against Empire. Although I come from the latter standpoint, I'm fascinated and want to see what Tempest will continue to build with her words, because her poems are as tangible and feel as lasting as bricks and mortar.

I would build differently -- but I can't wait to see where she goes with this bringing mythology into the heart of modern life. It feels like a grand beginning to a brilliant career.

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