Benjamin Zephaniah was born in England (in Birmingham) in 1958. His father, a Barbadian immigrant, worked as a postman, and his mother, of Jamaican origin, was a nurse. His interest in reggae led him to become a deejay on the local sound system scene and his approach, based on the resort to sarcasm and biting social commentary, made him really popular. This encouraged him to write short poems and to recite them, but this time with no musical accompaniment. Zephaniah’s first collection of poems (Pen Rhythm) appeared in 1980, and in the following years he carved a remarkable reputation on the local poetry scene as a performer of hard-hitting, political pieces.
Doumerc, Eric, Benjamin Zephaniah, Kunapipi, 26(1), 2004.