POETRY: Let Them Eat Chaos by Kate Tempest

Review published on December 15, 2016.

Seven strangers awake in the early hours of the morning contemplate their situation in life while others in the city sleep. A storm is brewing in this frozen moment in time and as the clock moves forward again it starts to rain. Kate Tempest’s new long poem calls for its readers to also wake up and see what is happening around them, to join together to change things rather than remaining isolated and ignoring the problems in the world. It’s a powerful message but not one that feels alienating or too pushy.

Tempest blends contemporary issues with the people they affect. The individual voices within the poem are linked to the wider problems she wants her readers to address and wake up to. She asks us to not ‘dismiss all its victims [of war] as strangers’ but to love, ‘wake up and love more.’ She has been compared to Ginsberg and Eliot for the importance of her poetic message but don’t let this scare you away.

If you don’t read poetry then Tempest is a great place to start, her words are accessible, and the meaning is easy to understand but at the same time not simplistic. This poem asks the reader to challenge the forces of greed that made our world as it is but it isn’t a challenge to read it. In fact it’s a joy and as suggested in the beginning of the book, it should be read aloud. As it is one long poem it’s best read in one sitting, so set aside an hour and find somewhere you can read this aloud.

Jane Cowley

Let Them Eat Chaos by Kate Tempest
Picador pbk Oct 2016

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