Benjamin Zephaniah(1958-), Writer, dub poet and musician
Sitter in 3 portraits
Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah grew up in Jamaica and in Handsworth, England. Sent to an approved school for uncontrollable behaviour, he ended 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.
Become a Member
Enjoy access to special events, discounts on the Gallery online shop, supporters’ updates and much more
Bringing people together by sharing the portraits and stories of the men and women who have shaped our nation.
Sign up to receive information on exhibitions, collections and activities of the National Portrait Gallery, including special offers, shop products, and exclusive competitions.