Jean 'Binta' Breeze

(1956 / Jamaica)

Biography of Jean 'Binta' Breeze

Jean "Binta" Breeze MBE (born 1956) is a Jamaican dub poet, and storyteller. She has worked also as a theatre director, choreographer, actor and teacher. She has performed her work around the world, in the Caribbean, North America, Europe, South-East Asia and Africa, and been called "one of the most important, influential performance poets of recent years".
Breeze was born and raised in rural Jamaica, and studied at the Jamaican School of Drama in Kingston with Michael Smith and Oku Onuora. She first visited London early in 1985, at the invitation of Linton Kwesi Johnson, to make her debut UK performance at the International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books on 19 March that year. Returning to London in September 19985, she taught Theatre Studies at Brixton College, but after two years' teaching she left in order to be able to perform full-time.
She has since also written in various media. Her first book of poetry, Ryddim Ravings, was published in 1988 by the Race Today Collective. She went on to write the screenplay for Hallelujah Anyhow, a co-production of the British Film Institute and Channel 4. She also released several albums, contributing to Woman's Talk (1986), and recording Tracks in 1991 with Dennis Bovell's Dub Band.
She has suffered from schizophrenia since her early 20s and has written poetry about what she herself calls "madness". In April 2006, on the BBC Radio programme The Interview, Breeze gave her perspective on mental illness and advocated increased attention to the needs of schizophrenics who do not have a "talent" like hers.
She now lives in Leicester, England.
In 2003 she was awarded a NESTA Fellowship of two years, to be held in Cambridge.
She is an Honorary Creative Writing Fellow at the School of English, University of Leicester.
Breeze was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to literature. Updates

To the Labour Party

You sold out the working classes
Brought the Unions to their knees
Now you want to win back the voters
But it's too late, can't you see

You left me with
An inborn fear of bureaucracy
A fright when you talk about democracy
‘Cause I'm tired of all this fallacy

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