'School' by Kae Tempest

A poem on school experience, from the award-winning Kae Tempest.

'School' is taken from Kae Tempest's 2014 collection Hold Your Own.


We wander into school, happy children;
kind and bright and interested in things.
We don't yet know the horrors of the building.
The hatred it will teach. The boredom it will bring.

Soon we'll learn to disappear in public.
We'll learn that getting by is good enough.
We'll learn the way it feels to see injustice,
and shut our mouths in case it comes for us.

We'll learn to never think but copy blindly.
To ally with the mean and keep them near.
We'll learn to not be talented or clever,
and the most important lessons
for success in a career:

How to follow orders when you're bordering
on nausea and you're bored and
insecure and dwarfed by fear.

Hold Your Own

by Kae Tempest

Book cover for Hold Your Own

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.