THERE was some sympathy to be had for the other Picador poets on the bill with Kate Tempest at this very enjoyable night of readings.

All very accomplished and acclaimed, and bringing a personal take on a range of topics including awkward teenage fumblings, imperfect parenting and social media disconnect, the star turn was undoubtedly the Picador-published Tempest.

Half way through a Brighton Festival she has shaped and put her inclusive, political and empathetic stamp on as guest director, she was clearly on a roll, and savouring every minute of what she called an incredible, humbling experience.

She comes on last, to cheers, a ripple of excitement charging through the audience at the Theatre Royal, and says there will be no amusing anecdotes to accompany the poetry, no introductions. Just the words. The words though, as anyone who has entered her character-based world, most currently portrayed on her Let Them Eat Chaos album, will know, are more than enough.

A word perfect 20-minute recital follows with her album’s devastating ‘We Die’, about a young woman who is haunted by the brutal death on the streets of a loved one, at the centre. It is electrifying and emotional, and easy to see why Tempest is capturing the zeitgeist of these troubled times. She is keen though to join the Picador party. Its poetry list is 20 years old, with the simple mission to publish the best work from the art form.

Its poetry editor Don Paterson – who comes on to laughs by saying, “I am not Kate Tempest” – welcomes a line-up of established names and new voices from this broad church – Glyn Maxwell, Lorraine Mariner, Richard Osmond and Hollie McNish. They are all entertaining, appreciated by this poetry-loving audience, and it is so heartening to be part of a celebration of the creative word.

They are upfront, wry, cynical and playful, from the old guard and the new, and much needed right now. We were enriched by a coming together of those trying, in poetry, to make sense of our world.

Susan Gilson