Forest planned in memory of poet Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Zephaniah
The poet and actor died in December, aged 65 [Family]

Sixty-five trees are to be planted in a Birmingham park in memory of poet and actor Benjamin Zephaniah.

Zephaniah, from Handsworth, died in December aged 65, eight weeks after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

His family said they were now planning to plant the trees in Newtown’s Burbury Park to create the The Zephaniah Forest, "a 65-strong conglomerate of poetry-tagged, community-consulted, and communally-planted trees".

Community planting days will take place in November, with a private family ceremony to be held to plant the final tree on the first anniversary of his death.

Mr Zepheniah's brother and sister stand in front of a picture of their brother on a street
Benjamin Zephaniah's siblings at an exhibition in tribute to him Birmingham city centre [BBC]

Zephaniah's youngest brother, David Springer, contacted Birmingham TreePeople on behalf of the family at the Benjamin Zephaniah Family Legacy Group, in the hope of carrying on his legacy through his love of trees and nature, the charity said.

Alongside the family, Birmingham TreePeople said it planned to work with other prominent individuals from the city as well as nature, community and arts groups, to ensure the long-term care of the forest to enable it to grow and thrive.

Each tree will be tagged and documented and a "Tree Trail" created to follow the newly planted trees, with dedicated poems associated with each tree.

The first poem has been selected but the charity appealed to the arts and poetry community to write more choosing either Zephaniah or his love of nature as the subject matter.

A fundraising appeal has now been started to help "to create a legacy forest for a legend in the heart of his home city", the charity said.

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