Inspiring poet returns to the stage at DMU

By Olivia Whaley

Famous poet Benjamin Zephaniah returned to De Montfort University to help motivate students with an inspirational lecture on Wednesday November 30.

benjamin-zAll students studying creative writing at the university were invited to listen to a lecture about the poet’s life.

DMU Student, Alexandra Kilcran attended the lecture, said: “The lecture by Benjamin Zephaniah was so inspirational. It is so important to have such successful writers come and speak to the students at DMU.”

The poet and musician spoke out to students about the challenges he faced growing up as a black man in England during the 1970s.

Benjamin shared with the students how he had been expelled from school at the age of 13 for challenging his teachers when they said that ‘Christopher Columbus discovered black people’.

Alexandra added: “Benjamin discussed with the audience how he approaches poetry and novel writing. I found it fascinating to hear about his work.”

The poet also addressed the challenges he faces due to his dyslexia, but said this ‘contributes to his unique phonetic writing style’.

Just last year, Mr Zephaniah was awarded an honorary degree by DMU for helping to make poetry relevant and accessible to all.

When awarded this, he said: “Poetry is everywhere. People see it in books or being studied and define it only in this way. But for me, we are all poets.

“You might wake up and think ‘why is the grass green? What would happen if it was red?’ That’s a poetic thought and these occur to people all the time; that’s my theory.”

In the lecture, Benjamin also addressed the multi-culturalism in Leicester and praised the city for being able to ‘live peacefully together’.

Third year creative writing and film studies student, Matt Dale also attended the lecture. He said: “Benjamin is such an engaging and funny speaker. It was great to listen to his story.”

Benjamin also covered the importance of understanding the business side of creative industries, referring to when he had work stolen, as he had not read his contract thoroughly.

Matt added: “He even stressed the importance of understanding business as well as having the passion to create stuff.”

Other students from DMU took to Twitter saying that the lecture had ‘really showed that following your dreams always pays off’ and ‘that it was the best lecture’ during their whole time at university.


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