Death of a hero
Benjamin Zephaniah: 15 April 1958 - 7 December 2023
Good morning readers — welcome to Friday’s Dispatch.
Like many others, I was incredibly sad to hear of the passing of Benjamin Zephaniah yesterday. Zephaniah was a skilled poet, an energetic activist, and an author who wasn’t afraid to tell stories about tough societal issues in a way that resonated with young readers and adults alike. I remember reading his novels as a teenager and wondering, bewildered: how is it that a person can craft language in this way, to make me feel so much while depicting the world with such clarity? It’s a rare quality and he will be sorely missed.
Brum in Brief
☂️ Today, expect light rain and a gentle breeze.
🗣️ The Handsworth-born poet, author, and campaigner Benjamin Zephaniah has died following a brain tumour at the age of 65. Leading poets have paid their respects in the Guardian. Michael Rosen said: “Benjamin was a hero to millions of people all over the world.”
🗣️ The actor Cillian Murphy — among other public figures — has paid tribute to Benjamin Zephaniah who starred alongside him in The Peaky Blinders. The BBC reports Murphy said: "A generational poet, writer, musician, and activist. A proud Brummie and a Peaky Blinder. I'm so saddened by this news."
📢 More than 30 organisations and more than 700 people have signed a petition calling on Birmingham City Council to re-state its commitment to achieving net zero by 2030. The action is part of the COP28 protests. The petition reads: “Our city is crying out for investment in cleaner, safer roads, better public transport, warm homes and good health and social care.” Over to cabinet member for the Environment Councillor Majid Mahmood.
🚧 A former Sainsbury’s supermarket site in Wolverhampton could become a five-acre community of homes, community spaces, and green streets according to plans set to go before the council next week. The City of Wolverhampton Council website reads: “Social impact developers Capital&Centric are set to lead on a vision to turn a sprawling brownfield site in Wolverhampton into a creative new neighbourhood.”
🎟️ Ticket prices for Coventry’s Godiva festival could rise if planned cuts to the City Council’s budget go ahead. The BBC reports: “The local authority is proposing to stop all direct funding to the family festival in two years' time, saving £300,000 per year.”
🕯️ A queer Nine Lessons and Carols service will take place on Sunday at the Arcadian’s Ibis Hotel from 3-5pm. It’s a traditional and inclusive service of Bible readings and carols.
✍️ Are you a keen (but budding) writer? Applications for Writing West Midlands Room 204 Writer Development Programme are open until noon on Monday 29 January. Each year this development programme selects around 15 writers for a relaxed scheme that gives you the chance to be part of a writing community while not demanding a lot of your time.