This month for Poetry 365 we’re featuring Kate Tempest’s extraordinary long poem Brand New Ancients. Winner of the 2012 Ted Hughes Award, the British poet/rapper/novelist’s second book of verse finds the mythic in the mundane story of half-brothers Thomas and Clive and their violently converging fates in southeast London. Hypnotic, operatic, and “written to be read aloud,” Brand New Ancients was lauded by The Scotsman as “a torrent of poetry so brilliant that the words often seem to glow and smoke with intensity.” So check out this powerful new voice, sample an excerpt below, and make sure to stop back next month for Poetry 365.
Brand New Ancients (excerpt)
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.
They lose themselves in crowds, their guts are full of rot.
They hope there’s something more to life but can’t imagine what.
These gods have got no oracles to translate their requests,
these gods have got a headache and a payment plan and
. stress about
when next they’ll see their kids,
they are not fighting our favourites –
they’re just getting on with it.
We are the Brand New Ancients.
Russell J (Readers’ Services)