Writer, poet and Peaky Blinders star Benjamin Zephaniah dies

Entertainment

Benjamin Zephaniah, the British poet and writer, has died aged 65.

He was diagnosed with a brain tumour eight weeks ago, a post on his Instagram page said, describing him as a “true pioneer and innovator” who “gave the world so much”.

“Benjamin’s wife was by his side throughout and was with him when he passed,” it added.

“Through an amazing career including a huge body of poems, literature, music, television and radio, Benjamin leaves with us a joyful and fantastic legacy.

Zephaniah was also a dub poet who played the role of Jeremiah Jesus in Peaky Blinders.

He turned down an OBE in 2003, writing: “Benjamin Zephaniah OBE – no way Mr Blair, no way Mrs Queen. I am profoundly anti-empire.”

He said he had begged Tony Blair to meet him to discuss crime in Britain and told the Queen to stop “going on about the empire”.

Born in Birmingham, Zephaniah was nominated for autobiography of the year at the National Book Awards for The Life And Rhymes Of Benjamin Zephaniah.

It was also shortlisted for the Costa Book Award in 2018.

Benjamin Zephaniah speaks at the Concert For Haiti, sponsored by the TUC, at Congress House in London.
Image:
Zephaniah was diagnosed with a brain tumour eight weeks ago

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