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Kae Tempest

UK

London’s true 21st-century wordsmith

Most of us would be delighted to conquer just one art form. That wouldn’t be enough for Kae Tempest–a true 21st-century polymath who wears the hats of performance poet, novelist, playwright and two-time Mercury Prize-nominated recording artist. Not that ‘polymath’ would be how Kae would describe this body of work. Those job titles have a common denominator, after all; “Kae Tempest is the words”. Albums, plays, novels and poetry collections have poured forth over the past decade, and inevitably in their wake came a tide of accolades and praise. Dorian Lynskey in The Guardian praised language that “hits like lightning. It illuminates and it burns.” He then described Kae as “a poet for people who don’t read poetry and a rapper for people who don’t listen to hip-hop”. For Kae, the over-riding purpose is for the words to connect with those reading or listening. “You have to know your motives. Otherwise, why even try?”