Friday poem: 'Thirteen'

From Kae Tempest's first full-length poetry collection Hold Your Own.

By Kae Tempest 

The boys have football and skate ramps.
They can ride BMX
and play basketball in the courts by the fl ats until midnight.
The girls have shame.

One day,
when we are grown and we have minds of our own,
we will be kind women, with nice smiles and families and jobs.
And we will sit,
with the weight of our lives and our pain
pushing our bodies down into the bus seats,
and we will see thirteen-year-old girls for what will seem like the first
    time since we’ve been them,
and they will be sitting in front of us, laughing
into their hands at our shoes or our jackets,
    and rolling their eyes at each other.

While out of the window, in the sunshine,
the boys will be cheering each other on,
and daring each other to jump higher and higher.


From Kae Tempest's first full-length poetry collection Hold Your Own

Hold Your Own

by Kae Tempest

Hold Your Own, Kae Tempest's first full-length collection for Picador is an ambitious, multi-voiced work based around the mythical figure of Tiresias. This four-part work follows him through his transformations from child, man and woman to blind prophet; through this structure, Tempest holds up a mirror to contemporary life in a direct and provocative way rarely associated with poetry.

A vastly popular and accomplished performance poet, Tempest commands a huge and dedicated following on the performance and rap circuit. Brand New Ancients, also available from Picador, won the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry and has played to packed concert halls on both sides of the Atlantic.