Poet, novelist and playwright Benjamin Zephaniah was born on 15 April 1958. He grew up in Jamaica and the Handsworth district of Birmingham, England, leaving school at 14. He moved to London in 1979 and published his first poetry collection, Pen Rhythm, in 1980. ? 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 other poetry collections include two books written for children: Talking Turkeys (1994) and Funky Chickens (1996).
He has also written novels for teenagers: Face (1999), described by the author as a story of ‘facial discrimination’; Refugee Boy (2001), the story of a young boy, Alem, fleeing the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea; Gangsta Rap (2004); and Teacher’s Dead (2007).
He has recently been awarded further honorary doctorates by London South Bank University, the University of Exeter and the University of Westminster.
‘Football Mad’ is taken from Do Wid Me, Benjamin Zephaniah Live and Direct, a new book and DVD from Bloodaxe Books, is a film portrait of Benjamin Zephaniah by Pamela Robertson-Pearce, drawing on both live performances and informal interviews. It shows him performing his poetry for different audiences and talking about his work, life, beliefs and much else. You see him live on stage at Ledbury Poetry Festival, Newcastle’s Live Theatre, Hexham’s Queen’s Hall and Brunel University, and engaging with school children at Keats House in London, where he was writer-in-residence. As well as the main film, the DVD also has a bonus feature: music videos made by Zephaniah with the Beta Brothers. All the poems and songs from the film and videos are included in the accompanying book. More details:
‘No Problem’ and ‘Do Wid Me’ are taken from Pamela Robertson-Pearce’s DVD-book In Person: 30 Poets, ed. Neil Astley. See Bloodaxe Books – In Person