Benjamin Zephaniah

About Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Zephaniah is an british jamaican poet and writer. 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 eleven, 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, Pen Rhythm (Page One Books, 1980). He was included in The Times list of Britain's top 50 post-war writers in 2008.

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