Benjamin Zephaniah holds the title of poet, writer, musician, professor, and holder of 16 honorary doctorates-- he also never received formal education past the age of 13. Having been told by teachers that his poor reading abilities were a result of his race and he was likely to end up in prison, a young Zephaniah didn’t think that his future would be bright. He loved telling stories, though, and was very good at orally presenting his creative ideas and original poetry. Poetry was taught in school, but the formal structure and restrictions put on poetry in the classroom never appealed to him. During this early education of his, he and his teachers were unaware that Zephaniah was dyslexic, and he never received proper intervention as a student. It wasn’t until he went to night school as an adult for reading and writing instruction that he learned he was dyslexic.

When Zephaniah published his first book he still couldn’t write properly, and had to speak the words to someone and have it written down for him. He preferred the title “storyteller” rather than “writer” because he couldn’t write. He has published poetry books and novels for young children, teens, and adults, and has toured all around the world performing his poetry. Even though he reached his success without proper education, he believes that education is vital for children, and is the right path towards a successful future.

Visit Benjamin Zephaniah’s website here to learn more about his poetry and novels, or listen to an interview with him here at the Codpast.