Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Zephaniah Poems

Take some Picts, Celts and Silures
And let them settle,
Then overrun them with Roman conquerors.
...

Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas
Cos' turkeys just wanna hav fun
Turkeys are cool, turkeys are wicked
An every turkey has a Mum.
...

I come from a musical place
Where they shoot me for my song
And my brother has been tortured
By my brother in my land.
...

At the bottom of my garden
There's a hedgehog and a frog
And a lot of creepy-crawlies
Living underneath a log,
...

Dis poetry is like a riddim dat drops
De tongue fires a riddim dat shoots like shots
Dis poetry is designed fe rantin
Dance hall style, big mouth chanting,
...

In Hawaii they Hula
They Tango in Argentina
They Reggae in Jamaica
And they Rumba down in Cuba,
...

I used to think nurses
Were women,
I used to think police
Were men,
...

Your house is
Falling down
Around
Your
...

The coconuts have got the jobs.
The race industry is a growth industry.
We despairing, they careering.
We want more peace they want more police.
...

I waz whitemailed
By a white witch,
Wid white magic
An white lies,
...

Mirror mirror on the wall
Could you please return our ball
Our football went through your crack
You have two now
...

I am the type you are supposed to fear
Black and foreign
Big and dreadlocks
An uneducated grass eater.
...

I waz walking down Wyefront street
When me trousers ran away,
I waz feeling incomplete
But still me trousers would not stay,
...

There was a young vegan
Called Steven,
Who just would not kill for no reason,
This kid would not eat
...

I am a veggie table
A table made of veg,
There’s so much fruit upon me
All living on the edge,
...

We Black men of England
Too proud to cry for shame,
Let's cry a sea
Cry publicly,
...

They put a leather belt around her
13 feet of tape and bound her
Handcuffs to secure her
And only God knows what else,
...

We know who the killers are,
We have watched them strut before us
As proud as sick Mussolinis',
We have watched them strut before us
...

19.

We first met on a golden night
As the moon radiated love light
On the dock of the bay.
Somewhere between the real deal and an illusion
...

Remember that vegan called Steven
Yes he would not kill for no reason,
Well I saw him today
Wearing nothing I say
...

Benjamin Zephaniah Biography

Benjamin Zephaniah is a British poet, writer, and musician. He was born on April 15, 1958, in Handsworth, Birmingham, England, to Jamaican parents. Growing up in Birmingham, Zephaniah experienced racism and discrimination firsthand, which later became a major theme in his poetry. He left school at the age of 14 and became involved in the local music and arts scene, performing his poetry at events and festivals. In 1980, Zephaniah published his first poetry collection, "Pen Rhythm," which was followed by several other collections, including "The Dread Affair: Collected Poems" and "Too Black, Too Strong." His poetry addresses issues of race, politics, and social justice and is known for its powerful imagery and passionate delivery. In addition to his poetry, Zephaniah has written several novels and children's books, including "Face" and "Gangsta Rap," and he has also worked as a television presenter and actor. He is also an accomplished musician and has released several albums of reggae and dub music, collaborating with artists such as Bob Marley and the Wailers and The Prodigy. Zephaniah has been a vocal advocate for animal rights and veganism, and he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Wolverhampton in 2007 for his contribution to literature and his work in promoting social justice. Today, Zephaniah continues to write and perform poetry and music, and he is a regular speaker at schools and universities around the world. He lives in London and is known as one of the most important and influential poets of his generation.

Life and Work

Zephaniah was born and raised in the Handsworth district of Birmingham, which he called the "Jamaican capital of Europe". He is the son of a Barbadian postman and a Jamaican nurse. A dyslexic, he attended an approved school but left aged 13 unable to read or write.

Facts About Benjamin Zephaniah

He writes that his poetry is strongly influenced by the music and poetry of Jamaica and what he calls "street politics". His first performance was in church when he was ten, and by the age of fifteen, his poetry was already known among Handsworth's Afro-Caribbean and Asian communities. He received a criminal record with the police as a young man and served a prison sentence for burglary. Tired of the limitations of being a black poet communicating with black people only, he decided to expand his audience, and headed to London at the age of twenty-two. He became actively involved in a workers co-operative in Stratford, London, which led to the publication of his first book of poetry, called Pen Rhythm, published by Page One Books in 1980. Three editions were published. Zephaniah has said that his mission is to fight the dead image of poetry in academia, and to "take [it] everywhere" to people who do not read books so he turned poetry readings into concert-like performances. His second collection of poetry, The Dread Affair: Collected Poems (1985) contained a number of poems attacking the British legal system. Rasta Time in Palestine (1990), an account of a visit to the Palestinian occupied territories, contained poetry and travelogue. His album Rasta, which featured The Wailers' first recording since the death of Bob Marley as well as a tribute to Nelson Mandela, gained him international prestige and topped the Yugoslavian pop charts. It was because of this recording that he was introduced to the political prisoner and soon-to-be South African president Nelson Mandela, and in 1996, Mandela requested that Zephaniah host the president's Two Nations Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, London. Zephaniah was poet in residence at the chambers of Michael Mansfield QC, and sat in on the inquiry into Bloody Sunday and other cases, these experiences leading to his Too Black, Too Strong poetry collection (2001). We Are Britain! (2002) is a collection of poems celebrating cultural diversity in Britain. Benjamin Zephaniah became a very successful children's poet with his first book of poetry for children called Talking Turkeys which had to go into an emergency reprint after just six weeks. In 1999 he wrote an immensely successful novel for teenagers, Face, the first of four novels to date. Zephaniah lived for many years in East London but since 2008 has divided his time between Beijing and a village near Spalding, Lincolnshire. He also lived in Indonesia for 5 years. He was married for twelve years to Amina, a theatre administrator, who left him in 2001. In November 2003, Zephaniah wrote in The Guardian that he had turned down an OBE from the Queen because it reminded him of "how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalised." Views Zephaniah is a well known supporter of Aston Villa F.C. and is the patron for an Aston Villa supporters' website. Zephaniah is an honorary patron of The Vegan Society, Viva! (Vegetarians International Voice for Animals), EVOLVE! Campaigns, the anti-racism Newham Monitoring Project, Tower Hamlets Summer University and an animal rights advocate. In 2004 he wrote the foreword to Keith Mann's book From Dusk 'til Dawn: An insider's view of the growth of the Animal Liberation Movement, a book about the Animal Liberation Front. In August 2007, he announced that he would be launching the Animal Liberation Project, alongside People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. He became a vegan when he read poems about shimmering fish floating in an underwater paradise, and birds flying free in the clear blue sky. The poet joined Amnesty International in speaking out against homophobia in Jamaica, saying "For many years Jamaica was associated with freedom fighters and liberators, so it hurts when I see that the home of my parents is now associated with the persecution of people because of their sexual orientation." Zephaniah has spoken in favour of a British Republic and the dis-establishment of the crown. Zephaniah appeared in literature to support changing the British electoral system from first-past-the-post to alternative vote for electing Members of Parliament to the House of Commons in the Alternative Vote referendum in 2011. He is a well known supporter of the UK Green Party. Achievements Zephaniah won the BBC Young Playwright's Award. He has been awarded honorary doctorates by the University of North London (in 1998), the University of Central England (in 1999), Staffordshire University (in 2002), London South Bank University (in 2003), the University of Exeter and the University of Westminster (in 2006). On 17 July 2008 Zephaniah received an honorary doctorate from the University of Birmingham. He was listed at 48 in The Times' list of 50 greatest postwar writers. He has released several albums of original music. He was awarded Best Original Song in the Hancocks 2008, Talkawhile Awards for Folk Music (as voted by members of Talkawhile.co.uk) for his version of Tam Lyn Retold recorded with The Imagined Village. He collected the Award live at The Cambridge Folk Festival on 2 August 2008 and described himself as a "Rasta Folkie".)

The Best Poem Of Benjamin Zephaniah

The British

Take some Picts, Celts and Silures
And let them settle,
Then overrun them with Roman conquerors.

Remove the Romans after approximately 400 years
Add lots of Norman French to some
Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Vikings, then stir vigorously.

Mix some hot Chileans, cool Jamaicans, Dominicans,
Trinidadians and Bajans with some Ethiopians, Chinese,
Vietnamese and Sudanese.

Then take a blend of Somalians, Sri Lankans, Nigerians
And Pakistanis,
Combine with some Guyanese
And turn up the heat.

Sprinkle some fresh Indians, Malaysians, Bosnians,
Iraqis and Bangladeshis together with some
Afghans, Spanish, Turkish, Kurdish, Japanese
And Palestinians
Then add to the melting pot.

Leave the ingredients to simmer.

As they mix and blend allow their languages to flourish
Binding them together with English.

Allow time to be cool.

Add some unity, understanding, and respect for the future,
Serve with justice
And enjoy.

Note: All the ingredients are equally important. Treating one ingredient better than another will leave a bitter unpleasant taste.

Warning: An unequal spread of justice will damage the people and cause pain. Give justice and equality to all.

Benjamin Zephaniah Comments

Lalaine Rebamonte 05 September 2012

Mr. Zephaniah, I am Lalaine B. Rebamonte, from the College of Education in the University of Cebu-LapuLapu and Mandaue, Philippines. We have chosen your poem SOS (Save Our Sons) for our Literature class to be analyzed as it gives striking stand of a brave person. Since our subject is in line with Literary Criticism, I would like to inform you that there are analyses gathered from our class. There will be different comments with your work and I hope you will be able to give feedback with regards to our comments. Very Truly Yours, Lalaine

294 213 Reply
Jetty J Newnham 03 October 2012

Benjamin Its Black history month I for one will make sure I enjoy reading Benjamin, also Langston Hughes Maya etc, I enjoy your poetry man peace

291 209 Reply
Agostina Etcheverry 02 November 2011

I really like this poem because it gives a positive message for people who don't have hope camila gouffier

264 231 Reply
Agostina Etcheverry 02 November 2011

The truth the poem is very londo since it has a positive message that gives before any difficult situation :) and that seems to me unlikely that critoque already qie it is necessary to be in this sotuacion to be able to act like Mariano J. Panza

189 217 Reply
Paul Smith 10 November 2013

Benjamin: I love your work. You express universal themes in simple language. You have a voice all your own.

197 135 Reply
Bri Edwards 15 January 2023

I sent stars and comments to B's Nature Trail. : ) bri

0 0 Reply
nigachin 16 January 2022

niga wasup

1 0 Reply
sama 14 November 2021

hi you are my hero

0 0 Reply
Luciano Ronchetti 05 March 2021

Hey Benjamin! I just read your poem...great, many thanks to you! WE REFUGEES, OK! ! !

6 2 Reply
Krystal 12 February 2021

hey bob

1 2 Reply

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