Listening to NPR the other night, we heard an interview with Kae Tempest, the young English poet and spoken word performer. Their wisdom knocked us out, as did their spoken song “People’s Faces” because it speaks so deeply to the time we live in.

Photo: Julian Broad courtesy of the artist

Indigo Girls’ Amy Ray and Emily Saliers put their finger on what makes Tempest so unique: “…their willingness to love humanity through the darkness makes me hopeful”. Interviewer Ari Shapiro asked Tempest how they maintains that view:

I think it’s hard work: It’s a process and it’s a practice. It demands a willingness to defeat the parts of you that want to go first to despair or want to go first to hurt or distrust, to actually try and override that.

It’s about looking again. It’s basically allowing yourself — or in fact, demanding — that you notice and feel and tune into the idea that every single person is existing at as ferocious a frequency as you are. Empathy is about hearing other people’s stories before telling your own and just having an awareness of that at all times.

For me personally, the practice is to look again… And as soon as I pay attention to anything … it suddenly becomes something that’s extremely beautiful and it’s full of life and has a lot to teach me.

As we listen to Tempest speaking their poem “Hold On”, and rapping the beautiful “People’s Faces”, we realize they speak from the complex inside of life and mind and heart, bringing to awareness we don’t have words for.

Listen to the entire 7-Minute interview here.

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