EP.142 - BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH
One more gye cost bend. Now you see that cost out and started listening. I took my microphone. Found some human then. I recalled it all the noise while my name is at buxton. I want you to enjoy. That's the hey at the buxton here. How you doing podcast. I'm reporting to you. From a hilly field a gently undulating field just outside the fine city of norwich east. Anglia attiyah to town in these dog days of the covert. But it's called. I'm out for a sunday afternoon. Walk with my dog friend rosie. She is a cross between a whippet and poodle. Ahead is black though. She like me is cultivating more and more white patches. Great looking dog in no mistake. I been taking some photographs of her. And i realized that now my phone from this year has gotten mainly pictures of rosie and sunsets. Few pictures to the children. Obviously you know once the children get into that teenage years. They don't to up for having that photographs taken anymore. So really. that's all that's left is roseanne. Sunsets not complaining. Got some great picks. Maybe i'll put one of them on the blog. Post accompanying this episode of the podcast. Speaking of which let me tell you a bit about my guest for podcast number one hundred and forty two. He is the british writer poet. Musician benjamin zephenia stephanie. Benjamin over dire it ball. Zephenia currently aged sixty two grew up in handsworth birmingham. Uk the eldest of eight children his jamaican mother was a nurse and his father. Originally from barbados was a postman being expelled from school at the age of thirteen benjamin spent several years drifting into petty crime and burglary which eventually resulted in a short. Stay in way. Break if you will no. That's no right in birmingham prison thereafter. Benjamin resolved to refocus his efforts. Little bit of an interruption. There from i think a pheasant. I got told off last week by someone who said that i miss identified a partridge. I inserted a fact checking center message thereafter anyway. Think matt was present. I've lived in the country for well over a decade now. And i still don't really know what's going on anyway. What was i saying. Oh yes birmingham prize on thereafter benjamin resolved to refocus his efforts onto something that always interested him writing poetry towards the end of the seventeenth. Benjamin found enthusiastic audiences for his poems at punk gigs and alternative comedy shows in london and his first book of poems pen rhythm was published in nineteen eighty when he was just twenty two a couple of years after that he made his first reggae album rasta and was the first person to record with the wailers in jamaica after the death of bob marley in musical tribute to nelson mandela called free south africa for which the legendary wailers reformed especially since then benjamin is recorded six. More music albums has written five novels. Five books seven plays and has a total of fourteen collections of poems to his name by my count. Also by my count. He currently holds nineteen honorary doctorates from various universities. He's taught writing in china. America south africa self korea and north korea and is currently professor of creative writing at london's brunell university. His autobiography the life and times of benjamin zephenia was published in two thousand eighteen reading. That was the thing that really made me. Want to speak with benjamin and. I'm glad that we were able to make it happen. My conversation with benjamin was recorded remotely towards the beginning of this month. November twenty twenty and we began by talking a bit about the pandemic and i should say at this point. Please be warned during the first ten minutes of our conversation. Benjamin told me about some relatives suffering with the effects of covid and included some details that may be upsetting to hear for people who have lost loved ones to the disease. This is a serious warning So you know if you skip pastas. I ten minutes. We i mean we talk a little bit more about the pandemic. But i think it's those first ten minutes that potentially problematic anyway just so you're aware but it's not all heavy chat with benjamin by any means he's had a fascinating life talks candidly an engaging. -ly about it. He's great company. And i really enjoyed talking to him back at the end for a little bit more wafa cake but right now with benjamin zephenia here. We go best very nice to meet you all over the internet dresser meeting everybody nowadays. It's weird. yeah. I remember when the pandemic started i just playing around on nutrients of he can find them. The song being sung by an american academic. And you've been on. He was crying and he was saying why. Didn't learn to learn teams suddenly. Gotta come to terms at all these things that is being dismissing. It was quite funny. How have you found all that stuff. I kind of put up tolerated. Do what i've got to do. But i had some kind of literally conferences that go to festivals. I found it strange next year. I've got to do some serious teaching online. And i'm not sure how i'm going to teach him re performance poetry go. Yeah it's deeply unsatisfactory. But it's actually in some ways. It's not as bad as i thought it was gonna. Because i always used to be quite hard line about not doing anything remotely because i felt that there was a connection that you get from being in the same room as a person looking directly at their face which you can't even get close to remotely but now i don't feel that way anymore. Had some good conversations with people like this. I have to but put something that i do especially when it comes to my students and sometimes it applies in situations where a student wants to see me for the reason they come into my office. And there's a moment. When i watched him put their coach down. I watched him sit down. I was in take you drink of water. Agassi are they stressed. The need to talk to them for five minutes before we talk about the subject tony to ask them. What life like on campus. How are they all that stuff but reading the person's body language as they walked through the door. Maybe it's just me. But i get a lot from that before i start talking about the topic that we're going to talk about. I look at their body language and well. I know i'm hesitating. Because i don't wanna talk about specifics but i've been in that situation when i realized actually this person needs help not at the meeting and i say to them. Listen you are right. You know i can get you some help but consorts of we can leave this meeting for awhile. Do it lighter. And they've literally burst into tears. Starting telling me something. That's going on with their parents or something that kind of stuff. I just cannot get do meetings online but then again i've been talking to people who are not normally talk to had mittens with forbes. I'm involved in trying to set up at the moment are black writers guild. Normally those meetings would be in london but now we just have diminished. Said this day. People from all over britain one person. Well i'm in jamaica india my gosh yeah that's amazing and how you dealing with everything else. This year i read somewhere that you Being particularly cautious because of your veganism and that makes you more susceptible to colds and flu and that kind of thing is that you know you read the read that that's complete mistake.