Book Review: On Connection
Lily Kershaw
Lily Kershaw • Jul 15

Book Review: On Connection

by Lily Kershaw

On Connection by Kae Tempest
Kae Tempest’s On Connection is a book whose strength is in its deeply personal nature. The essay primarily explores how one’s connection with the self enables a greater connection with others, not only within the context of life in general but also within the context of a pandemic rife with constant lockdowns. Prior to reading this, I had never seen any of Tempest’s work, but a friend sent it to me after I had been complaining about not being able to connect with people as I had done just a year before. Integrating this book into my daily ritual of reading in my local park, Tempest’s writing helped me to understand the value of my own company. One of the key points of their writing relates to Carl Jung’s theory of the spirit of the times and the spirit of the depths, with Tempest suggesting that we must fully embrace and reconnect with our internal being and face who we are, not only for ourselves but also to become a better person, a better friend, a better lover.

Tempest themselves is a non-binary, British spoken-word poet, who uses their unique experiences to shape this essay. Yet, while they structure the text according to a gig, dividing it into seven parts with names like ‘Set Up’, ‘Sound Check’, and ‘Support Act’, don’t let that deceive you. In truth, there is a universality in Tempest’s specificity. An experience of life on stage is not required to understand their message – in truth, between social media and the pressure to always be available in some capacity, we are all on stage constantly, and Tempest primes us to take a step back and ask ourselves “why am I up here?” and “what is it that I’m trying to do?”. 

In its short 117 pages, Tempest does not let a single word go to waste. The beauty of their writing is palpable and ridiculously quotable. Tempest’s intimacy with their own identity and vulnerability in revealing it in such a frank and open manner, encourages a similar vulnerability for the reader. After finishing their essay, it’s hard not to find yourself thinking over the multitude of messages which Tempest tries to convey; I found myself reconsidering my relationship with myself, asking if my desire to surround myself with friends and family was actually just a desire to avoid my own company, and this question definitely reframed the most recent lockdown for me.

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While, of course, no book is flawless, On Connection is definitely an eloquent first step into re-examining one of the most crucial connections we have – the connection with ourselves.

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Lily Kershaw
Lily Kershaw

Lily Kershaw is a journalist and student studying French and Portuguese at Oxford University

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