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Country & Border Events
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Poetic licence
Political poet and author
Benjamin Zephaniah gets more
than he bargains for from an
enthusiastic audience
AS NOISY HORDESofpeoplestarttoclamourat
TheatreSevern’slargeglassdoors,itbecomes
clearthisevent’sbeeneagerlyawaited.The
audienceisaveritableseaofdiversity,fromyoung
teenagerstotheover60s.Andthat’soneofthe
greatthingsaboutBenjaminZephaniah–he
managestounitepeopleofallraces,ages,cultures
andbackgroundsthankstohisuniquestyle.
Zephaniahisbothapoetandanauthor.Heis
bestknownforhispoliticalpoems,butjustas
celebratedforhisnumerouschildren’sworks,like
thehumorousTalkingTurkeys.Bornin
Birmingham,hehasmanytiestotheBorders
andlivedinShrewsburyforawhilewhenhe
wasyounger.
Oncethedoorsopen,we’reusheredintothe
An
Au
die
nc
auditoriumoftherecentlybuiltTheatreSevern.
Sh
re
Z
w
e
s
ph
ThisisthesecondtimeZephaniahhasperformed
bu
an
r
i
y
a
.
h
W
.
e
T
ed
h
w
n
e
i
e
a
t
s
t
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r
Ben
jam
in
a
e
y
S
15
e
t
v
h
ern
A
,
pri
l
inShrewsbury:afterappearingattheMusicHall,
hewasinvitedbackespeciallytoplayinthisnew
venueandit’sobviouswhyastheshowis Shrewsburyandwherehewasborn. rangefromhisreasonsforturningdownanOBE,
afullhouses. Butwhenheaskstheaudience,“Doyouknow tohisviewsonBarackObama,tohishair.
Zephaniahappearsonstageandstartsspeaking whenIwasborn?”thetablesareturnedonthe Heinsistsonbeingquizzedbyyounger
inhisownidiosyncraticstyle.Itfeelsasifhe’s performer–ayounggirlpipesup:“Youwereborn membersoftheaudienceaswell,anda
speakingdirectlytoyouasheexplainswhatthe today,51yearsago.It’syourbirthday!” 16-year-oldboyasksifhehadtogiveupbeing
eveningwillconsistof–namelyhimperforming Inresponse,theentireaudienceapplaudsand eitheraveganorapoet,whichwoulditbe.
someofhispoetry,talkingabouthislifeand burstsintoarenditionofHappyBirthdaytoa Zephaniahexplainsitwouldbeatoughdecision
answeringquestions. ratherbashful-lookingBenjamin. butthathe’dhavetogiveuppoetry.“You’dhave
HebeginswiththepoemTheMenFrom Recovering,Zephaniahcontinues,interspersing toeatyourownwords,”theboyremarks!
JamaicaAreSettlingDown–anironicpieceabout storiesabouthislifeandfamilywithmorepoetry. ItwasanotherEnglishpoetAdrianMitchellwho
theslavetrade.Hisperformanceinfusedwith There’sarealmiscellanyofsadness,joy,severity famouslydeclared:“Mostpeopleignoremost
palpablepassion:hedoesn’tjustspeakthewords; andhumour,andit’sperhapsthismix,combined poetrybecausemostpoetryignoresmostpeople.”
hepracticallysingsthemwithacontagiousrhythm withthecandidwayinwhichheconfideswithus, WhatmakesZephaniahaccessibleandlovedbyso
andanenergythat’smesmerizing. thatmakeshimsuchafascinatingindividual. manyisthat,quitesimply,hispoetryignores
Oncehe’sexplainedthehistorybehindthe Thefinalsectionoftheshowseeshim no-oneandincludesusall.
piece,hetalksabouthisrelationshipwith welcomingquestionsfromtheaudience.They CharlottevanPraagh
a76 • Saturday 13th June,Gaeau GelliAngharad, selectionofthoroughlyWelshtreats.There’llbe •Sunday 14th June,RAF Cosford Air Base,
Capel Bangor,Aberystwyth performancesattheMemorialHallbyMarian Cosford,Shropshire
Animpressiveannualagriculturalevent,the Brydias;abrassbandplayingmusicfromBachto AlleyeswillbeontheskiesfortheannualRAF
AberystwythandCeredigionCountyShowfeatures theBeatles;localdramaticsociety,theStarlight CosfordAirshowfeaturingdisplaysbysomeofthe
awiderangeofattractions,fromproduceand Players;andapoetryevening.Fringeeventsinclude world’sbestpilotsflyingtheworld’smost
poultryshowsthroughtoequestrianevents,plant anartexhibitionatCricciethHolidayHallanda legendaryplanes.
stallsandlivestockexhibits.Tel:01970617143 flowerfestival.Tel:01766522120fordetails. AmongtheairaceswillbetheRAFRedArrows
orvisitwww.aberystwythshow.com aerobaticsteam,theRAFFalconsParachute
DisplayTeam,helicopterteamstheBlueEagles
•Tuesday 16th-Sunday 21st June. andtheRoyalNavy’sBlackCats.Therewillalsobe
Criccieth,Gwynedd displaysfromaircraftincludingtheStrikemaster,
GwylCricciethFestivalreturnswithanother TyphoonandSpitfireT-9.Tel:08712301083.
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