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Benjamin Zephaniah

A photo of Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Zephaniah

is Anansi the Spider from Traditional African and then Caribbean Tales

About Benjamin

Benjamin Zephaniah describes himself as a poet, writer, lyricist, musician and troublemaker. The son of a Barbadian postman and a Jamaican nurse, he grew up in the Handsworth district of Birmingham, which he regards as the Jamaican capital of Europe. Benjamin is dyslexic and left school at thirteen unable to read or write. But he had already started to perform his own poetry, and by the time he was fifteen had developed a local reputation for tackling social issues with humour. When he was 22 he moved to London, determined to make poetry relevant and accessible. He performed his dub (reggae) poems at dances and demonstrations, on stage and television, and injected new life into the British poetry scene. Benjamin’s collection of poems, Pen Rhythm, was published in 1980, the first of nearly 30 poetry books, novels and plays, including Talking Turkeys, poems for children, and the teen novel Refugee Boy. Benjamin is Professor of Poetry and Writing at Brunel University and travels the world performing and campaigning on a range of social issues. He is a passionate vegan, practitioner of martial arts and football supporter, and was a friend of the late South African president, Nelson Mandela.

Q&A with Cambridge Jones