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13May

On Connection by Kae Tempest audiobook review – inside the creative impulse

The performance poet narrates their first nonfiction work, mixing memoir with musings on how creativity brings people together

A meditation on art and creativity, On Connection is the musician, playwright, novelist and performance poet Kae Tempest’s first work of nonfiction. Written early in the pandemic, this extended essay mixes memoir and philosophical musings as it examines the need “to play, to create, to reflect and release” and the ways these impulses connect us.

Tempest – who uses they/them pronouns – narrates with a rhythmic urgency and fierce humanity that will be familiar to anyone who has seen them perform live. In the opening chapter, Sound Check, they talk of a numbness that can occur as a “logical response” to the sensory overload of everyday life, and the power of poetry to overcome it. Twenty years on the spoken word scene has shown Tempest how “naked language has a humanising effect; listening to someone tell their story, people noticeably [open] up, become more vulnerable, and let their defences down”.

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