Jean "Binta" Breeze
|Jean "Binta" Breeze|
Pictured in 2007
|Occupation||Writer, dub poet|
Jean "Binta" Breeze MBE (born 1957) is a Jamaican dub poet and storyteller. She has worked also as a theatre director, choreographer, actor and teacher. She has performed her work around the world, in the Caribbean, North America, Europe, South-East Asia and Africa, and been called "one of the most important, influential performance poets of recent years".
Breeze was born and raised in rural Jamaica, and studied at the Jamaican School of Drama in Kingston with Michael Smith and Oku Onuora. She first visited London early in 1985, at the invitation of Linton Kwesi Johnson, to make her debut UK performance at the International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books on 19 March that year. Returning to London in September 1985, she earned a certificate of education at Garnett College (1987), and taught Theatre Studies at Brixton College, but after two years' teaching she left in order to be able to perform full-time.
She has since also written in various media. Her first book of poetry, Ryddim Ravings, was published in 1988 by the Race Today Collective. She went on to write the screenplay for Hallelujah Anyhow, a co-production of the British Film Institute and Channel 4. She also released several albums, contributing to Woman's Talk (1986), and recording Tracks in 1991 with Dennis Bovell's Dub Band.
She has suffered from schizophrenia since her early 20s and has written poetry about what she herself calls "madness". In April 2006, on the BBC Radio programme The Interview, Breeze gave her perspective on mental illness and advocated increased attention to the needs of schizophrenics who do not have a "talent" like hers.
She has presented her work throughout the world, including tours performing in the Caribbean, North America, Europe, South East Asia and Africa, and has been desribed as a "one-woman festival". She now lives in Leicester, England.
Honours and awards
Books of poetry
- Answers (1983)
- Riddym Ravings and Other Poems (Race Today Publications, 1988) edited by Mervyn Morris
- Spring Cleaning (Virago Publishing, 1992)
- On the Edge of an Island (Bloodaxe Books, 1997)
- Song Lines (1997)
- The Arrival of Brighteye and Other Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2000)
- The Fifth Figure (Bloodaxe Books, 2006)
- Third World Girl: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2011), with live performances DVD
- The Verandah Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2016)
- Riddym Ravings (1987), ROIR
- Tracks (1991), LKJ
- Hearsay (1994)
- Riding on de Riddym (1997), 57 Productions
- Eena Me Corner (2010), Arroyo Rec.
- Sheri Elaine Metzger, "Jean “Binta” Breeze 1956–", Contemporary Black Biography, 2003. Encyclopedia.com. 4 March 2013.
- "Jean Binta Breeze", British Council, Literature.
- Larkin, Colin (1998), The Virgin Encyclopedia of Reggae, Virgin Books, ISBN 0-7535-0242-9, p. 36.
- Michael Reckord, "Jean Breeze: 'Poetry Has Been My Life'", The Jamaica Gleaner, 17 January 2014.
- Sara Taukolonga, "Making Poetry Seem Like A Breeze", The Voice, 13 August 2011.
- Sarah White, Roxy Harris and Sharmilla Beezmohun (eds), A Meeting of the Continents: The International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books – Revisited. History, Memories, Organisation, and Programmes 1982–1995, London: New Beacon Books, 2005, p. 197.
- Carolyn Cooper, "Breeze, Jean Binta (1956–)", in Eugene Benson and L. W. Conolly (eds), Encyclopedia of Post-Colonial Literatures in English, 2nd edn, Routledge, 2005, p. 144.
- Elisabeth Mahoney, "Radio review: Out of the Vortex", The Guardian, 8 February 2011.
- "Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze", Press Office, University of Leicester, 19 January 2017.
- "Poet is set to share her skill", Leicester Mercury, 19 February 2010.
- Honorary Creative Writing Fellows, School of English, University of Leicester.
- "No. 60173". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 June 2012. p. 14.
- Queen's birthday honour's list 2012: MBE, The Guardian, 16 June 2012.
- Walters, Basil (2018) "Lifetime Award for Jean 'Binta' Breeze", Jamaica Observer, 6 August 2018. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
- "Jean 'Binta' Breeze Receives Lifetime Achievement Award - Jamaica Poetry Festival Partners With National Library Of Jamaica To Honour Dub Poet", The Gleaner, 18 August 2018.