Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze

Thursday, 19 January 3pm

portrait - Jean 'Binta' Breeze by Hayley MaddenPoetry Society courtesy www.renaissanceone.co.uk crop.jpgJEAN ‘BINTA’ BREEZE was born in 1956 in Patty Hill, Hanover, Jamaica. A graduate of Rusea’s High School, she enrolled at the Jamaica School of Drama in 1978, and between 1979 and 1981 lived as a Rastafarian in the Clarendon hills. She has worked with the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission as a cultural organizer in Westmoreland and, later, as a national coordinator for the literary arts.

She first visited London to take part in the International Book Fair of Radical and Third World Books, on the invitation of Linton Kwesi Johnson.  She took part in a number of events and became well known for her searing poetry and her mixing of the political and the personal.  In 1987 she earned a certificate in education at Garnett College, London.

From that first visit, Breeze soon made England her home and currently lives in both Jamaica and England doing a mixture of writing, performing and mentoring.

She is the author of eight books of poems and stories, including Riddim Ravings and other poems, On the Edge of An Island, The Fifth Figure and Third World Girl: Selected Poems. This year to mark her 60th birthday, The Verandah Poems, her latest collection was published by Bloodaxe books and she has been touring England with literature producers Renaissance One for much of the year giving readings from the book and running masterclasses. Her recordings include Riddim Ravings, Tracks and Riding on de Riddim.

A very powerful performer, she has been called a ‘one-woman festival’. She has also become well known for her mastery of, and use of, the ‘Dub’ form as well as other forms of poetry.  Her words carry powerful political and personal messages, and audiences relate to and are inspired by her work. She has presented her work throughout the world, including tours of the Caribbean, North America, Europe, South East Asia and Africa.

Living in Leicester for over a decade, she did community work with the city and elsewhere in the Midlands and she has been a Patron of the Showcase Smoothie and Soft Touch Arts, both social and charitable initiatives which support a range of people with lived experience of schizophrenia and mental illness. She is an honorary Creative Writing Fellow at the University of Leicester’s School of English. She was awarded an M.B.E. in 2012 for Services to Literature.

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