READ THE WORLD – England: Let Them Eat Chaos by Kate Tempest

A long poem, that was written to be read aloud, about seven different people who live on the same London street.

Set at the same moment in time in the early hours one morning, moments before a huge storm breaks, Let Them Eat Chaos takes you into each person’s lives, seeing their thoughts and feelings at that very moment. Sometimes their emotions are raw and scattered, some think about what’s going on in the world, while others are thinking about their immediate future.

Let Them Eat Chaos is almost a crystallised snapshot of what it’s like to live in London, how money never goes far enough, the gentrification and how people are often living from one payday to the next. It doesn’t shy away from the more grimy and less pleasurable aspects of London life but it also has a positivity about the place, what it could be if people didn’t isolate themselves so much and tried to make a small change to their lives, and the world around them.

Let Them Eat Chaos uses powerful, emotive language to almost be like a rallying cry to action, to make people wake up and be more proactive and accountable. It could come off as preachy at times but it manages to avoid that on the most part as it has a sincerity for the different subjects it touches upon.

“Life is much broader than borders” is a line that really hit me, especially living in England-post Brexit. I’m not sure when Kate Tempest first performed this piece but the book was published in 2016 so maybe Brexit was on her mind, whether it was the final result or the debates surrounding it. So much of Let Them Eat Chaos feels like a desperate plea to reach out to others and I can imagine hearing Tempest perform it would make it ten times more powerful.

Let Them Eat Chaos is a poetic and effective piece of work. It’s a quick read but the language used and the way the words are laid out makes it easy to imagine them being said aloud. 4/5.

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