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Hold Your Own by Kate Tempest

Hold Your Own (2014)

by Kate Tempest

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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872196,791 (4.25)8



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This was a fantastic read. I read it in about two sittings.

It's based on ancient myth, but you don't need to know the myth to enjoy the poems. (Although I'd like to go and check out a few translations and definitely read this book again.)

Tempest touches on so many themes, sexuality, loneliness, belonging, modern life, love, gender, feminism, war, and all with such simple, emotional prose. I had such a visceral reaction reading her work and I loved every minute of it. It's so easy to read and so sensual and so melancholy. So much of her British background is evident in what she writes, but I think it adds to the atmosphere.

What I really appreciated is she was able to split the book up into four different sections, and while each section stood on its own, the book also carried a single narrative thread to tie everything together.

Don't like poetry? Guess what, I don't care, I think you should read this.

I'm off to go check out some of her musical and spoken poetry work now. ( )
  lydia1879 | Aug 31, 2016 |
Tiresias is born male and lives much of his life as such, until he is transformed into a female. She continues life as a female for years, until he becomes male again and is blinded by the gods and given powers for foresight as a prophet. This Greek myth, and its implications, forms the structure and basis for Kate Tempest's poetry collection HOLD YOUR OWN.

In Tiresius' myth, he experiences childhood, womanhood, manhood, and prophethood. These are the four chapters into which Tempest sections her work. Within, poems discuss topics of the timelessness of the human condition - war, relationships, gender, PTSD, love, aging, sex, and forgiveness. There is a great diversity in the style and structure of each poem, but all are infused with a rhythm and musicality. ( )
  BooksForYears | Jul 25, 2016 |
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...in both “Brand New Ancients” and “Hold Your Own” — for being able to shuttle easily back and forth between the mundane and the mythic, the banal and philosophical, and for using her pictorial imagination to sear specific images into the reader’s mind: a child playing (or remembering playing) “games on the alleyway railing” and painting “potatoes whenever it rained”; and old Tiresias — who’s known seven lifetimes — picking “his teeth with a dirty needle,” keeping “his eyes in a plastic bag.”

She has a remarkable ability to convey, in “Hold Your Own,” what it is to be 7 or 13 years old, what it is to be 16 with “nothing but fury and bass/and dead friends that keep us close to each other,” and what it is to be old, “letting nothing take you by surprise any longer,” the “whole world spinning within you.”

She also conveys what it is to be a young poet, scribbling words on takeout menus and fliers for raves, and the mysteries of the vocation:

Seeking out a secret in
the light, the rain, the traffic.

A thing that makes him less alone.
Some sudden, brutal magic.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tempest, Kateprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rambert, SophieCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Tiresias: I will go, once I have said what I came here to say.

-Sophocles, 'Oedipus Rex'
For all of you, for all of it, but especially for India, who taught me how to hold my own.
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Picture the scene:
A boy of fifteen.
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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"--… (more)

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