Let Them Eat Chaos, Kate Tempest's new long poem written for live performance and heard on the album release of the same name, is out today.
Seven neighbours inhabit the same London street, but are all unknown to each other.
The clock freezes in the small hours, and, one by one, we see directly into their lives: lives that are damaged, disenfranchised, lonely, broken, addicted, and all, apparently, without hope.
Then a great storm breaks over London, and brings them out into the night to face each other - and their last chance to connect.
‘After weeks of intense writing in the recording studio with Dan Carey, I had finished the first draft of what would become Let Them Eat Chaos, but I was unsatisfied with the shape of the piece; I knew what I wanted it to do, but hadn't yet been able to find the right way to make it happen. I had generated a lot of material, but it wasn't yet sharp enough. I wanted the lyrics to be driven and clear, but I hadn't quite got to the core of things, so I took all the different drafts, false starts and half-finished ideas from my notebooks and worked up a manuscript, with the intention of applying some of the editing principles I'd learned from Don Paterson to my album lyrics.
I cut and clarified, lost the baggy bits, interrogated the ideas and looked at the piece as a whole. I saw how to frame it in a more satisfying way and found a route through something that had been blocking me before. I realised that in essence it was beginning to feel similar to Brand New Ancients, without that being intentional or forced, I wondered if this story I was working on could be a poem in its own right, and so I called Don and told him that I thought I had an idea.
This is not a transcript of the album, but a companion to it, in the same way that the text of Brand New Ancients works as a companion to a performance piece. I enjoyed the challenges of asking the page to support the words and asking the words to support themselves without music. I hope the poem works as a poem, and holds its own.’
Let Them Eat Chaos is a call to action, and, both on the page and in Tempest's electric performance, one of the most powerful poetic statements of the year.
Picador will publish Let Them Eat Chaos in October to coincide with the album of the same name. Kate will be embarking on an international tour with the album.
Let Them Eat Chaos is out now.
Kate Tempest was born in London in 1985. Her work includes the plays Wasted, Glasshouse and Hopelessly Devoted; the poetry collections Everything Speaks in its Own Way and Hold Your Own; the albums Balance, Everybody Down and Let Them Eat Chaos; the long poem Brand New Ancients; and the novel The Bricks that Built the Houses.
She was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize for Everybody Down, and received the Ted Hughes Award and a Herald Angel award for Brand New Ancients. The Poetry Book Society selected Kate for the prestigious accolade of Next Generation Poets 2014.