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La Biennale di Venezia

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Biennale Teatro 2021

Kae Tempest

Silver Lion

Award ceremony

Friday 9 July 2021, 2:00 pm
Ca’ Giustinian, Venice

Kae Tempest

La Biennale di Venezia will present the Silver Lion to Kae Tempest.

Kae Tempest are “the most powerful and innovative poetic voice to come out of Spoken Word Poetry in recent years – as the motivation for the award reads –, capable of rising through the ranks of English publishing and reaping consensus beyond the national borders for the ardent courage demonstrated in dissecting and describing with a lucid gaze the anguish, solitude, fear and insecurities of life, the most invisible yet tangible life partners of our time – between identity, hypocrisy and marginality, which they also experienced personally – and lashing out at the dominating and oppressive morals of our day”.

Kae Tempest, who won a nomination for the Brit Awards 2018 and the acknowledgments named after Ted Hughes and T.S. Eliot, have been awarded the Silver Lion for Theatre 2021 – write ricci/forte – “for their luminous audacity in placing reflective exploding timebombs and for continuing to experiment with a genre such as poetry defined as niche, mixing the lofty with the low, anger with the tenderness of affection – between caustic verses and rhymes reminiscent of Shakespeare with a strong social thrust, classical myths and hip-hop hybridizations – speaking from the heart to an increasingly vast audience, penetrating deep into your bones, forcing you to look inwards and into the mirror of your painful intimacy”.

The Book of Traps & Lessons is the most recent of Kae Tempest’s legendary readings, and will premiere in Italy at the 49th International Theatre Festival.

Biographical notes

Kae Tempest, the pseudonym of Kate Esther Calvert (Westminster, 1985), came out as non-binary in 2020, publicly announcing their new name - Kae (pronounced like the letter K) Tempest - and their preference for the use of the plural and non-binary (in English) pronoun “they”. Since then, Tempest’s biographies have adapted to this request.

The poetry collection Brand New Ancients won the Ted Hughes Award 2012, one of England’s most prestigious prizes for poetry, while in 2014 the Poetry Book Society (founded by T.S. Eliot) added Kae Tempest’s name to the list of Next Generation Poets it issues every ten years, for the poetry collection Hold Your Own. The albums Everybody Down (2014) and Let Them Eat Chaos (2017) were nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. The latter was accompanied by the eponymous collection of poems, which was nominated in turn for the Costa Book of the Year in the “Poetry” category. Their third album, The Book of Traps and Lessons was released in 2019 and was nominated for the Ivor Novello Award. The most recent collection of poetry is titled Running Upon the Wires. Their debut novel The Bricks That Built the Houses won the Books Are My Bag Readers award for Breakthrough Author.

The plays commissioned to Kae Tempest include: Wasted, Hopelessly Devoted and Paradise, a rewriting of Sophocles’ Philoctetes which was to be performed at the National Theatre last year, but was postponed because of the pandemic, and published by Picador.

In October 2020 Faber published the first non-fiction text authored by Kae Tempest, On Connection.

In Italy Kae Tempest’s books are published by Edizioni E/O.

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