S14, Ep7 How To Fail: Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Zephaniah was the author of the first poetry collection I ever owned. For many of us, he was the chronicler of our youth: a novelist and poet who made language exciting and funny and told stories full of action and hilarity.
I was so excited to get to speak to him for today's episode, and he didn't let me down. We talk about his failure as a 'gangsta' - and his early brushes with the law (he served a prison sentence for burglary) as well as what being incarcerated taught him. We talk about his failures at school, his dyslexia and leaving mainstream education at the age of 13. And, in one of the most emotional conversations I've ever had on the topic, we talk about his failure to have children and his own journey with male infertility. It's the first time I've spoken about fertility struggles with a male guest, and it's a conversation I'll never forget. Just a note to say: we both get emotional and if you're feeling in a fragile space yourself because you're going through something similar, you might understandably want to come back to this episode later. On the other hand, it might be exactly what you need to remind you that you're not alone.


This episode is airing on Windrush Day in the UK, 22nd June, a legacy Zephaniah explores in his latest book for children, We Sang Across the Sea: The Empire Windrush and Me, available to order here: https://www.waterstones.com/book/we-sang-across-the-sea-the-empire-windrush-and-me/benjamin-zephaniah/onyinye-iwu/9780702311161

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com


Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

How To Fail @howtofailpod 

Benjamin Zephaniah @BZephaniah