Hold Your Own

Hold Your Own

by Kate Tempest


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My heart throws its head against my ribs, / it's denting every bone it's venting something it has known since I arrived and felt it beat.

Kate Tempest, winner of the Ted Hughes Award for Brand New Ancients and widely regarded as the UK's leading spoken word poet, has produced a new poem-sequence of electrifying power. Based on the myth of the blind prophet Tiresias, Hold Your Own is a riveting tale of youth and experience, sex and love, wealth and poverty, community and alienation. Walking in the forest one morning, a young man disturbs two copulating snakes—and is punished by the goddess Hera, who turns him into a woman. This is only the beginning of his journey . . . Weaving elements of classical myth, autobiography and social commentary, Tempest uses the story of the gender-switching, clairvoyant Tiresias to create four sequences of poems, addressing childhood, manhood, womanhood, and late life. The result is a rhythmically hypnotic tour de force—and a hugely ambitious leap forward for one of the most broadly talented and compelling young writers today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781632862051
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 03/10/2015
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 494,341
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Kate Tempest grew up in southeast London and started rapping when she was sixteen years old. She has had a varied career as a poet, playwright, rapper, and recording artist. She has released a spoken-word album; a multimedia project Everything Speaks in its Own Way; and a recording album, Balance, with her band Sound of Rum. Her solo record, Everybody Down — a concept album featuring characters who will return in her debut novel, The Bricks That Build the Houses (Bloomsbury, Winter 16) — is shortlisted for the 2014 Mercury Prize. She is a two-time winner of the poetry slam at the Nu Yorican Poetry Cafe, and has received poetry commissions from the Royal Shakespeare Company and the BBC. Her narrative poem Brand New Ancients, conceived as a performance piece, won the Ted Hughes Award in 2012, and will be published alongside Hold Your Own, her first collection. In 2014, Tempest was selected as one of this decade's 20 Next Generation Poets from the UK and Ireland.

Table of Contents

Tiresias 1


For my niece 27

I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now 28

Snakes in the grass 29

Girl next door 30

Thirteen 31

Bully 32

School 34

Sixteen 35

The cypher 37

Age is a pervert. Youth is a fascist 39

The boy Tiresias 40


The woman the boy became 45

On Clapton Pond at dawn 50

India 51

Remembering the way you kissed me once 53

Some couple 54

The old dogs who fought so well 55

What we lose 57

You eat me up and I like it 58

Fuck the poem 60

Waking up with you this morning 61

The woman Tiresias 62


The man Tiresias 67

These things I know 70

Watching my dog sleep 74

Learning curve 75

Morning after opening night 76

Down the pub 78

The point 79

Penance 80

Man down 81

Blind Profit

The prophet Tiresias 87

Ballad of a hero 88

Sigh 92

Progress 93

The downside 98

Fine, thanks 99

Cruise control 100

And as we followed dinosaurs 102

Radical empathy 103

Party time 106

Prophet 107

Acknowledgements 111

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