Dub Ranting from the People’s Laureate
Benjamin Zephaniah will make his debut appearance at this year’s Wilkswood Roots Reggae Festival. The veteran British writer, dub poet, actor and musician will be bringing his unique brand of superfluid verse and brooding soundscapes to the main stage on Friday night.
Born in Handsworth, Birmingham in 1958, Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah was the son of a Barbadian postman and a Jamaican nurse. A dyslexic, he left school at 13 unable to read and write but became influenced by the music and poetry of Jamaica. By the age of 15 he had started performing poetry in his home town and at 22 he struck off to London to seek a wider audience. Forty years and over a dozen published works of poetry later, Zephaniah is widely considered to be one of the the UK’s most influential writers to chronicle the lives of black people in Britain. He has won the BBC Young Playwright’s Award as well as several honorary doctorates. In 2008 he was listed at 48 in The Times’ list of 50 greatest postwar writers and he is widely acknowledged as the ‘People’s Laureate’.
He has released several albums of both poetry and unique music. His debut EP, Dub Ranting, brought him to the attention of John Peel and Zephaniah became a staple of his evening show throughout the 80s. He has released seven albums, including Back to Roots, Belly of De Beast and 2017’s highly acclaimed Revolutionary Minds. His acting skills have brought him to a wider audience more recently, playing the part of Jeremiah Jesus in BBC2’s Peaky Blinders.