|Interview with Benjamin Zephaniah - Talking Turkey|
A: Getting back to your writing – do you think you have been influential in changing people's attitudes towards animals? Or do you write from a personal point of view and whether you change people's minds isn't as important to you?
BZ: The reason I write is to get people thinking – not to change their minds – it's not straightforward propaganda. About two weeks ago, Talking Turkey was voted by children the fifth-best children's poem of all time on the BBC's National Poetry Day.I was in my house at the time, feeling fairly depressed and feeling low, because the person I love wasn't around me and I felt really lonely. Then this programme came out and there were these children – and I thought of all the poems in the World that they could choose! All the other poems were these all-time classics, and there was Talking Turkey. One of the things I think about the poem is that it has been taken up by the animal rights movement for children but also in the mainstream they love it so much – people still write to me all the time about it – I mean I did that poem ages ago. It's a vegan book, you know what I mean? So you can imagine, there I was feeling tearful and then there's all these children going "Yes, Benjamin!"
A: Do you have a lot of feedback from children regarding your work?
BZ: Women and children mostly. It's a strange thing – they say women are more emotional and children get the books in school. They don't care about being black or white and wonder why we are being so bad to the animals. It's very basic. They are not indoctrinated yet. I don't use a dictionary – if I am performing a poem in front of an audience, there is no point in using fancy words. It has to be everyday language – it's got to be immediate. I may use Jamaican-English words – a lot
A: So, do you think you have changed people's opinions?
BZ: I should say 'no' and shut my mouth now. The truth is I know I have because people have told me. When I started as a kid, I loved using language; I loved that words can have an effect on people. Sometimes when I do a poem, it may just be to express an emotion. Sometimes, there is some word-play. I have heard stories where I have changed people's opinions. I know I have – it's not a brag or anything – it's what people tell me.
Turkeys just wanna play reggae
I once knew a turkey called...Turkey
Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas
|< Prev||Next >|