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Too Black, Too Strong by Benjamin Zephaniah

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Too Black, Too Strong is Benjamin Zephaniah's third collection from Bloodaxe. It addresses the struggles of black Britain more forcefully than all his previous books. With poems like 'Chant of a Homesick Nigga' and 'Kill Them Before Ramadan',  he shows that he's a poet who won't stay silent, who doesn't pull any punches, writing out of a sense of urgency and a commitment to social justice. He opens this hard-hitting and blackly funny book of poems with an outspoken comment on where he's coming from, setting his poetry against the political landscape of Britain. The book includes poems written while working with Michael Mansfield QC and other Tooks barristers on the Stephen Lawrence case.

Best known for his performance poetry with a political edge for adults – and his poetry with attitude for children – Benjamin Zephaniah has his own rap/reggae band. He has produced numerous recordings, including Dub Ranting (1982), Rasta (1983), Us and Dem (1990), Back to Roots (1995), Belly of de Beast (1996) and Naked (2004). He was the first person to record with the Wailers after the death of Bob Marley, in a musical tribute to Nelson Mandela, which Mandela heard while in prison on Robben Island. Their later meetings led to Zephaniah working with children in South African townships and hosting the President’s Two Nations Concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 1996.

His first book of poems, Pen Rhythm, was produced in 1980 by a small East London publishing cooperative, Page One Books. His second collection, The Dread Affair, was published by Hutchinson’s short-lived Arena imprint in 1985. He has since published three collections with Bloodaxe, City Psalms (1992), Propa Propaganda (1996) and Too Black, Too Strong (2001), the latter including poems written while working with Michael Mansfield QC and other Tooks barristers on the Stephen Lawrence case. To Do Wid Me, filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce (Bloodaxe Books, 2013), includes a full-length feature film on DVD with all the poems performed on the film included in the book.

 Published by Bloodaxe Books, 2001.

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