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BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH
Poet
Photographed by John Ferguson NEW ENTRANT
Zephaniah’s passion and wit have made him one of Britain’s best-known and best-loved
poets. He has written numerous poetry books for adults and children and travelled
the world for nearly 30 years performing his poems and his music. Nelson Mandela
requested a meeting after hearing him perform Free South Africa with The Wailers. His
work has earned him 13 honorary doctorates, one rejected OBE and a stint as poet in
residence at the chambers of Michael Mansfi eld, QC, at the time of the Stephen Lawrence
case. Zephaniah left school at 13, barely able to read or write. He survived a turbulent
upbringing and stints in prison before turning to music and poetry. Using Britain as his
reference point, he carved out his niche speaking out for the poor and oppressed.
Infl uential because… he’s brought the image and power of
poetry to a massive new audience in a way no one else could.
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