introducing readers to writers since 1995

October 12, 2004

The Black Non-Knight

by Ron Hogan

zeph.jpgBenjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah is the United Kingdom's "poet of the people," according to Globe and Mail correspondent Mike Doherty. Apparently his very public refusal of a British knighthood made him anathema to the right, the same way his rap-styled poetry has been rubbing the powers that be the wrong way for years, and that suits him just fine:

"I was offered a professorship at Oxford University and a fellow[ship] at Cambridge, in the middle of the eighties. One don said then, 'You can't deny what Benjamin Zephaniah has done for poetry in this country. He's turned a new generation on to poetry; he's got people going out and listening to poetry. We have to honour it in some way. But we should do it in a traditional British way, when he's dead.' "

Wow. I have never heard of this guy. I just visited his website and I'm definitely going to check out his poetry. He's doing some interesting things with dialect and poetic rhythms.

Posted by: Dolen at October 12, 2004 12:48 PM

This guy is so special. I'm British, and first became aware of him in the early eighties. Then, my friends and I thought of him as a reggae artist. He released albums, and the rhythm of his words worked beautifully with the music. This was before rap. By reciting with music, he reached out and found an audience.

Posted by: Mary at October 12, 2004 03:20 PM
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