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