Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Review – Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Zephaniah is a poet I have been meaning to investigate for some time. He seems an interesting character, to have intriguing politics and I admire his rejection of a disreputable OBE and also making a fuss about it.

So I was surprised, when reading a few of his poems, at the disappointment setting in. I found many of them somewhat heavy handed and, above all, many of the rhymes jarring, disrupting the flow of the poem.

Fortunately I did not completely give up at that point and did indulge in a number of YouTube videos. Watching Zephaniah perform and some of the poems I had doubts about came across as more entertaining. He can certainly keep a room of schoolkids enthralled – not an easy task. If fact it's curious that in Zephaniah's performances he does not stress the rhymes, more often playing them down, avoiding the emphasis, so there whole effect is less jarring.

I don't see the above as my definitive view on Zephaniah; far from it; just questioning, just a few incoherent thoughts. And as entertaining as his performances are I still have lingering doubts about poems that do not work when being read.

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