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British poet and author Benjamin Zephaniah dies aged 65

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British poet and author Benjamin Zephaniah has died after a short illness, according to a post from his family on his official X account.

The statement said the 65-year-old was diagnosed with a brain tumor only eight weeks ago. Zephaniah came to prominence as a poet and author of the Black experience in Britain, breaking into the mainstream in the 1980s through his “dub poetry” – verse set to reggae music.

His work often discussed his childhood experiences growing up in Handsworth in Birmingham, and the civil disturbances that spread through English cities in the mid-80s.

He published 14 books of poetry, seven plays and seven albums of original music. He was named as one of the 50 greatest post war writers in The Times in 2008.

His family posted on X: “Benjamin was a true pioneer and innovator; he gave the world so much. Through an amazing career including a hug body of poems, literature, music, television and radio.”

DJ and BBC radio presenter Trevor Nelson called Zephaniah a “unique talent.”

In a post to X, formerly Twitter, the BBC radio host wrote: “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 R.I.P.”

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