Benjamin Zephaniah dead after brain tumour diagnosis - tributes pour in for iconic poet

​Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Zephaniah has died age 65

George Bunn

By George Bunn

Published: 07/12/2023

- 11:46

Updated: 07/12/2023

- 12:41

His work dealt with topics such as racism and social injustice

British poet Benjamin Zephaniah has died aged 65.

The poet, who was known for works tackling topics such as social injustice and racism, was diagnosed with a brain tumour eight weeks ago.

A statement posted on his social media channels read: "It is with great sadness and regret that we announce the death of our beloved Husband,. Son, and Brother in the early hours of this morning (December 7).

"Benjamin was diagnosed with a brain tumour eight weeks ago. Benjamin’s wife was by his side throughout and was with him when he passed. We shared him with the world and we know many will be shocked and saddened by this news."

Benjamin Zephaniah

Tributes are pouring in to Benjamin Zephaniah


The statement continued: " Benjamin was a true pioneer and innovator, he gave the world so much.

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

Tributes are pouring in to the poet, who is credited for the creation of “dub poetry”, with the words recited over the beats of reggae music.

Singer-songwriter and musician Billy Bragg said on social media: "Very sorry to hear this news. Benjamin Zephaniah was our radical poet laureate. Rest in power, my friend."


Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Zephaniah has died age 65


Poet and author Michael Rosen said; "The tragic terrible news has come to me that Benjamin Zephaniah's family have announced that Benjamin has died. I'm devastated. I admired him, respected him, learnt from him, loved him. Love and condolences to the family and to all who loved him too."

Broadcaster and DJ Trevor Nelson said: "So sad to hear about the passing of Benjamin Zephaniah. Too young, too soon, he had a lot more to give. He was a unique talent."

Born in Birmingham, Zephaniah moved to London at the age of 22. He is most well known for his books including Refugee Boy in 2001 and Gangsta Rap in 2003. He also published poetry for children, and his first book for younger readers, Talking Turkeys, was a national success.

He also appeared regularly on screen including in the BBC drama series Peaky Blinders between 2013 and 2022, where he played the role of Jeremiah Jesus. Zephaniah turned down an OBE in 2003.

\u200bBenjamin Zephaniah'

Benjamin Zephaniah's poetry for children was a national success


He was also an Aston Villa fan, with the club paying tribute, calling him "legendary".

A spokesperson from the club said: "Everyone at Aston Villa is deeply saddened by news of the passing of legendary writer and poet, Benjamin Zephaniah.

"Named as one of Britain's top 50 post-war writers in 2008, Benjamin was a lifelong Aston Villa fan and had served as an ambassador for the @AVFCFoundation.

"The thoughts and condolences of all at the club are with his family and friends at this time."

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