Famous Brit of the Week #79 - Benjamin Zephaniah


This week's Famous Brits Assemblies are about Benjamin Zephaniah. Zephaniah was born and raised in Birmingham. His dad was a postman from Barbados and his mum a nurse from Jamaica. He is a dyslexic and left school aged 13 unable to read or write. Despite this, he has become one of this country's most celebrated poets.

He writes that his poetry is strongly influenced by the poetry and music of Jamaica and what he calls "street politics" or 'dub poetry'. His first performance was in church when he was eleven, and by the age of fifteen, his poetry was already known among Birmingham's Afro-Caribbean and Asian communities.

As a young man, he received a criminal record and served a prison sentence for burglary.

As well as writing poetry, Benjamin has been an actor, a musician and a political activist.