On facebook, I saw dis poet,
from my old home-town, back in Brum,
Born in the Caribbean of Handsworth Woods,
where I’d lived as a very young mum.
Ben, he had a challenge,
when he was attending school,
He was labelled as “dyslexic”
the teachers had called him a fool.
Way back then in the 80’s,
Handsworth Woods was known as Europe’s multicultural town.
The heart of good old Birmingham,
so many ethnic people spread around!
Sounds of reggae music,
Smells of ganja smokes.
Curries in the kitchen,
and dancing, rapping folks.
Happy bright jigging Rastafarians,
carrying ghetto blasters on their shoulders.
Dancing away life’s worries,
never concerned about getting older …
The old houses they were shabby,
two up and then two rooms down.
But the vibrant people of cultures,
they never wore a frown …
There was a special “vibe” there,
you could feel it in your blood
Likewise, the band “UB40” had began their dub!
Thank you “Benjamin Zephaniah”
for reminding me back to that time …
When I fell in love with reggae music,
and Bob Marley just blew my mind!
Bob Marley played “heart pumping” music,
Showing jah dance could shed the blues.
I always loved those pulsing vibes,
wanting to be Jamaican,
‘n’ join their tribes!
Their bright rasta colours, soul sounds and earthy smells,
I vividly remember them,
as I recall back my memories now.
So many happy faces,
Jiggling jah men, hip hopping around.
They had a snappy swagger,
as they sashayed from their hips.
Their feet always dancing,
Jah music booming loud …
Happy boppy music … ‘I and I’ imagined,
I was living in “Kingston Town”
Beautiful Jamaican families –
on Sunday mornings,
dressed up in brightest clothes.
Parading off to churches,
to sing gospels and hallelujah’s,
with dignity, grace and repose.
Gone are the days from way back then,
but I always do remember,
When I hear dat reggae soul sound playing.
Come to think of dat now and den!
maybe dat is where I learned ‘dis beaty beat, rap pen …
Victoria Healing ~15.10.2015
I heard a Poet
Benjamin Zephaniah was born in April, 1958 and was raised in the Handsworth district of Birmingham, which he 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 writes that his poetry is strongly influenced by the music and poetry of Jamaica and what he calls "street politics"
“Mr Professor Zephaniah said pupils should have a greater awareness of the “different cultures and languages” within Britain. “Hindi, Chinese and French are taught [in schools], so why not Welsh? And why not Cornish? They’re part of our culture,” he said.The poet made his comments during his first visit to the National Eisteddfod, which took place in Meifod, Powys” ~ BBC Cymru
”I think poetry should be alive, you should be able to dance it’ ~ Benjamin Zephaniah