This month, I saw and heard Kate Tempest perform from her most recent poetry collection on the final day of the short story festival known as Small Wonder. The festival had reached out for something different, for something beyond the traditional semi-spontaneous conversation between author and academic or the quiet reading of prose work by introverted short story writers. Kate Tempest (along with an irreverent moderator in Damian Barr and the shy but talented Irish writer Colin Barrett) was that something different.
Kate's star is rising, soaring, exploding…she reaches across class and gender; she touches people as she touches on human concerns. Here she was at a highbrow literary festival just being herself. She walked in confidently with signature jeans and blue sweater, shoulders a little hunched, hands in pockets, her mane of golden hair untroubled by any constraint. She made herself comfortable on a stage with unsympathetic lighting. She just did what she does. The crowd loved her.
Here she is reciting part of a poem last year in an interview situation; despite being seated, despite the absence of a typical audience, despite the apparent sterility she gets into performance mode and conjures up lives, relationships, feelings…go Kate!