A Life of Rhyme – A Tribute to Benjamin Zephaniah

Thursday 9 May

On behalf of the people of Liverpool, Writing on the Wall are proud to host a tribute to Benjamin Zephaniah, pioneering dub poet, lyricist, musician, and revolutionary, who passed away in December 2023, aged 65.


Liverpool was a special place to Benjamin. In the mind 1980’s, following a smear campaign by the S*n Newspaper, he was offered a year-long residency in Liverpool 8. He said the support meant a lot to him at difficult time.  Benjamin was a regular guest at WoWFEST. He appeared alongside Levi Tafari and Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze in a celebration of Dub poetry called ‘Inna Liverpool with Friends’, delivered an unforgettable ‘Rebel Rant’ in St George’s Hall Concert Room; brought his band, The Revolutionary Minds to District for a high energy performance as part of WoW’s Black History Month celebrations, and launched his autobiography during WoWFEST at the Philharmonic Hall.

Benjamin was often described as the ‘People’s Poet’, a title earned through his brilliant poetry, his energy and connections he made wherever he went. He brought poetry down from the ivory towers, making it accessible to all. He became a household name, appearing on talk shows often as a political commentor, making his own TV programmes, and playing a preacher in the Peaky Blinders series. Popularity did not compromise his principles and he continued to speak truth to power, calling for social justice whether it be for Palestine, victims of racism, or the future of the planet.

This tribute to Benjamin will be hosted by Co-Director Madeline Heneghan and led by Citizen of Honour, poet Levi Tafari, Benjamin’s friend and collaborator over many decades. Michael Rosen, one of the nation’s most loved children’s author and poet, will join us to celebrate Benjamin’s life. There will be performances from a younger generation of Liverpool poets, including Amina Atiq, Blue Saint, and Claire Beerjeraz, who are part of Benjamin’s immeasurable legacy.

Michael Rosen is one of Britain’s best loved writers and performance poets for children and adults. His first degree in English Literature and Language was from Wadham College, Oxford and he went on to study for an MA at the University of Reading and a PhD at the former University of North London, now London Metropolitan. He is currently Professor of Children’s Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London where he co-devised and teaches critical approaches to reading on an MA in Children’s Literature, having done the same at Birkbeck, University of London. He has taught on MA courses in universities since 1994. He was the Children’s Laureate from 2007-2009 and has published over 200 books for children and adults, including the recent bestseller Many Different Kinds of Love and On The Move.

Levi Tafari – Liverpool-born Levi Tafari is the author of three poetry collections: Duboetry (1987), Liverpool Experience (1989), and Rhyme Don’t Pay (1998). His plays have been performed at the Unity Theatre and the Playhouse in Liverpool, as well as at the Blackheath Theatre in Stafford. He has also worked on educational projects running creative writing workshops with many different groups. He has also appeared in many television programmes including Blue Peter and Grange Hill, and made a well-received film about Rastafarianism for BBC television’s Everyman programme entitled The Road to Zion.

Amina Atiq is a published poet, performance artist, practitioner and award-winning community activist, and anti-racism advisor for Curious Minds & Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse Theatres. She was a BBC Words First Finalist and awarded Steve Biko Young Achievers; she was featured in 100 Inspirational Women of Merseyside and Future List 2022 of Northern Woman awards. She is poet in residence at University College of London & Norfolk Ponds Project, working on the secret Life of Ponds and of Museum of Colour, These Things Matter Exhibition. She is also Artist fellow of Metal Culture, producing a new upcoming creative campaign, HijabSpeaks. In 2020 she produced a short documentary, Unheard Voices, capturing the stories of Yemeni shopkeepers.

Blue Saint is a Congolese and British, Liverpool-based rapper, singer-songwriter, designer, poet, spoken word artist and producer who blends hip-hop, RnB and soul to create a style that is both introspective and infectious. His honest and vulnerable lyrics, paired with his smooth delivery, have garnered him a dedicated following in Liverpool and beyond.

Claire Beerjeraz is a Liverpool based free-lance Spoken Word Artist and Creative Psychotherapist. She has worked with the many local Liverpool organisations on multiple pieces of work, giving her the opportunity to perform at the Everyman Theatre, Hope Street Theatre and Tate Liverpool. Claire is passionate about combining therapy with expressive arts and works with local charity YPAS as a Creative Children’s Psychological Therapist.

Venue: Palm House

Sefton Park

Liverpool L17 1AP

Time: 7pm

Tickets: Pay what you can afford. Suggested donation £5

Proceeds from this event will be donated to the Vegan Society and Inquest.

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