Fives logo – a stylised number five

with Benjamin Zephaniah

The last thing that made you smile

I was in a Whole food store (on the 9/9/17), and a boy, around the age of 10, was looking up at a shelf when he said loudly, “This is not a real whole food shop. It can’t be. They sell split peas.” I thought it was funny anyway.

A secret

I get really turned on by ancient Babylonian stone erotica—there really is nothing like it.

The last thing you wrote

I’ve just written a statement for the courts because I’ve been caught speeding. In the statement I tell the judge that I really need my car to travel around the country, and that if I don’t have a car, thousands of children will be deprived of poetry. That poetry could save their lives. Researchers have found that children love literature and are generally more expressive if they encounter a living poet when they are young, so poets should not be put in prison, or be without their own forms of transport, (if they live in villages), but fines are acceptable because we can claim them as travel expenses for tax purposes.

Your favourite city

Very difficult this one. A couple of years ago I would have said Shanghai, Tokyo, or of course London, but I am beginning to go off cities, it’s so hard to breathe in them. I now want clean air and trees. In 2014 I went to Pyongyang. There’s not much pollution there. So for now let’s say Pyonyang, until the first modern city made from sustainably sourced wood is made, then, that will be my favourite city.

What you’d place in a time capsule

I’d like to put me in it, but if I couldn’t do that I’d like to put a film of me reading ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ by Dylan Thomas. It’s on YouTube, but I prefer the BBC version of me doing it which is not on YouTube!

Benjamin Zephaniah was born and raised in Birmingham, England. He cannot remember a time when he was not creating poetry.