Brand New Ancients: a Poem for London

We love the dedication of Kae Tempest's Brand New Ancients almost as much as the poem itself. Read it, and an extract, here

02/10/2013
2 minutes to read

The below passage is taken from early on in Brand New Ancients.

Brand New Ancients is dedicated to Camberwell, Lewisham, Brockley, New Cross, Peckham, Brixton, Blackheath, Greenwich, Charlton, Kidbrooke and Deptford, and all the gods from all those places who taught me everything I know.
Kae Tempest

The gods are in the betting shops
the gods are in the caff
the gods are smoking fags out the back
the gods are in the office blocks
the gods are at their desks
the gods are sick of always giving more and getting less
the gods are at the rave –
two pills deep into dancing –
the gods are in the alleyway laughing
the gods are at the doctor’s
they need a little something for the stress
the gods are in the toilets having unprotected sex
the gods are in the supermarket
the gods are walking home,
the gods can’t stop checking Facebook on their phones
the gods are in a traffic jam
the gods are on the train
the gods are watching adverts
the gods are not to blame –
they are working for the council
now they’re on the dole
now they’re getting drunk pissing their wages down a hole
the gods are in their gardens
with their decking and their plants
the gods are in the classrooms
the poor things don’t stand a chance
they are trying to tell the truth
but the truth is hard to say
the gods are born, they live a while
and then they pass away.

Brand New Ancients

by Kae Tempest

Book cover for 9781447257684

Winner of the Ted Hughes Prize for innovation in poetry, Kate Tempest's Brand New Ancients plays with mythology to tell the story of young people in modern times as their lives spiral out of control.

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. 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.