Award-winning poet Kate Tempest’s new album is “The Book of Traps and Lessons.” (Courtesy Julian Broad)

Kate Tempest an eclectic, evocative poet and more

English spoken-word artist defies classification

Multi-faceted British artist Kate Tempest has accomplished a great deal in her decade-long career. She has published three popular poetry collections, including 2013’s “Brand New Ancients,” which won the prestigious Ted Hughes Award, penned a bestselling 2016 novel, “The Bricks that Built the Houses,” staged three plays and released three studio albums, two of which earned Mercury Prize nominations. On the new Rick Rubin-produced “The Book of Traps and Lessons,” her spoken-word style deftly, gingerly rides jazzy musical accompaniment up into a beat-retro personification of cool. It’s no wonder the 2018 Brit Awards filed her nomination under Best Female Solo Performer; she defies convenient classification.

When did you first discover the power of words as a kid?

There was no eureka moment, I’m afraid. It’s just been always something that I’ve felt a real connection and love for. I can’t remember anything else apart from just really being into words. I wish I had a better story for you, but I just don’t.

Why did words fascinate you so much?

What can I say, really? I just always had an obsession with music and stories, books, reading. I just loved to read and I loved to write. It just felt so normal to me, and it contributed so much to how I understood the world and my place within it. I can’t really distance myself enough to explain it.

When did it manifest itself into giving performances?

Well, I was always writing, but I wasn’t sharing my work. It wasn’t until I got to 15 or 16 that it became about performance. But that was more about just wanting to share with friends something that I thought was cool. So the whole point of writing something was that you could share it with friends at the end of writing it.

At first, you stayed in the beat, hip-hop style. On “Lessons,” you force yourself to stay off it. How hard was that?

It was extremely challenging. It was like having to unlearn instinct; it was really hard. But actually, it was a hugely rewarding breakthrough at the end, because you don’t want to be restricted, and as an artist, you don’t even see your own restrictions. So you don’t think that something as simple as staying in time is a restrictive convention. But who knew?

What did you learn about blending the two art forms?

It was important for me to just get closer to the core truths and the core origins of each of the lyrics I was trying to perform. So conventions can allow you to hide, even from yourself. And the things that make me comfortable can allow you to stray from that core.

IF YOU GO

Kate Tempest

Where: Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25

Tickets: $22 to $60

Contact: (415) 346-600, www.livenation.com

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