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Benjamin Zephaniah (1958-), Writer, dub poet and musician

Sitter in 2 portraits
Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah grew up in Jamaica and in Handsworth, England, where he was sent to an approved school for uncontrollable behaviour, which ended him up in jail for burglary. After prison, he turned from crime to music and poetry. As a reggae DJ in Handsworth, he carved a niche for himself standing apart from his contemporaries with their chants about Jamaican life by choosing to use Britain as his main point of reference as well as the influence of Jamaican music and poetry as a part of his identity. At the age of 22, he travelled to London and published his first book Pen Rhythm. Other poetry publications followed including Too Black, Too Strong; children's books include We Are Britain.

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Benjamin Zephaniah

by Miriam Reik
bromide fibre print, 1980s
NPG x30307


Benjamin Zephaniah

by Donald MacLellan
toned bromide print, 29 August 1996
NPG x88746