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Fans of Benjamin Zephaniah asked to plant flowers in his memory

Poet Benjamin Zephaniah died shortly after being diagnosed with a brain tumour (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Poet Benjamin Zephaniah died shortly after being diagnosed with a brain tumour (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Fans of the poet and author Benjamin Zephaniah have been asked to plant flowers or trees and name them in his memory, rather than send cut flowers on the day of his funeral.

The dub poet, known for his works about refugees and healthy eating and who also appeared in hit BBC show Peaky Blinders as Jeremiah Jesus, died earlier this month at the age of 65.

He had been diagnosed with a brain tumour shortly before his death.

It is understood he will be laid to rest at a small family funeral on December 28.

A statement on X, formerly Twitter, said: “Today is Professor Benjamin Zephaniah’s funeral day. We know a lot of people want to show respect to him but cannot join his funeral.

“As Benjamin does not like flowers without roots, we recommend that if you want to, please plant something like flowers, trees or any plants you want to, anywhere you wish, name them as Benjamin Zephaniah in memory of him.”

Supporters are alternatively asked to send money to the charities The Vegan Society or Inquest, which helps bereaved families of people who have died in police custody or prison, immigration detention, mental health settings or where there have been failings by the state.

Zephaniah, who rejected an OBE in 2003 because of the association of such an honour with the British Empire and its history of slavery, was often outspoken on racial abuse and education.

Sky Arts Awards
Poet Benjamin Zephaniah who died earlier in December (Ian West/PA)

The Birmingham-born poet was nominated for autobiography of the year at the National Book Awards for his work, The Life And Rhymes Of Benjamin Zephaniah, and the book was also shortlisted for the Costa Book Award in 2018.

He was kicked out of school at the age of 13, unable to read or write, and had dyslexia.

In his 20s he travelled to London where his first book Pen Rhythm was published by Page One Books.

His first writings used dub poetry, a Jamaican style of work that has evolved into the music genre of the same name, and he would also perform with the group The Benjamin Zephaniah Band.