A sell-out crowd gathered at Avid Reader Bookstore on Monday night to welcome international award-winning poet and rapper Kate Tempest in conversation about her debut novel, The Bricks That Built The Houses. In conversation with Pascalle Burton, Tempest discussed her latest work, life on the road and her creative process working towards the novel’s release.

“I feel like this has been a pivotal moment. It concludes the work I’ve been doing for five years,” said Tempest.

Renowned and widely known for her spoken word poetry, Tempest first made a name for herself as a rapper. Her most recent album, Everybody Down, is where the story of many of the characters in her novel began, with both works interconnecting between tracks and chapters.

The novel, like Tempest’s previous work, approaches the everyday lives of people with compassion and deep understanding. It distills the mundane and trivial into the profound. Lending her voice to the first chapter, Tempest moved audiences performing from memory and showing the same haunting rhythm that is present in her prose as in her poetry and music.

Audiences gained insight into the highly personal world of Tempest’s work, derived from the lives of people in her home of South London and lived experience. For Tempest, creating is a highly spiritual process, a recurring theme in much of her work.

“It’s this constant psychosis of elation and agony,” said Tempest. “I’m religious about music, I’m religious about literature, I’m religious about poetry.”

When asked about future projects and her writing career, Tempest was frank. “I become a novelist the next time I sit down to write a novel.”

The Bricks That Built The Houses is available for purchase from Avid Reader and all good bookstores.

Words by Sarah Neilsen
Image by Alex Gent