Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah (born 15 April 1958) is a British writer, poet and Rastafarian. He was included in The Times list of Britain’s top 50 post-war writers in 2008. Zephaniah was born and raised in the Handsworth district of Birmingham which he has called the “Jamaican capital of Europe”. He is the son of a Barbadian postman and a Jamaican nurse. A dyslexic, he attended an approved school but left aged 13 unable to read or write.
He now writes that his poetry is strongly influenced by the music and poetry of Jamaica and what he calls “street politics”. His first performance was in church when he was eleven, and by the age of fifteen, his poetry was already known among Handsworth’s Afro-Caribbean and Asian communities.