Dzifa Benson

Writer | Producer | Performance Maker

 
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Dzifa Benson is a multi-disciplinary live artist who uses literature as her primary mode of expression. The intersections between science, art, the body and ritual and by the question of who or what is invisible animate Dzifa's practice. She explores this through poetry, storytelling, theatre, performance, libretti, essay, journalism and a range of other media. She also embraces education, collaboration and participation at the heart of her practice. She is interested site-specific work as well as subverting the use of existing spaces.    

Born in London to Ghanaian parents, Dzifa grew up in Ghana, Nigeria and Togo. She has performed her work internationally in many contexts such as: artist in residence in the warren of rooms that form the Courtauld Institute of Art; disruptive element in classrooms across the 5 sites of City & Islington College; curator of a poetry performance responding to a David Hockney painting in Tate Britain; producer and host of a literature and music experience in the Dissenters Gallery of Kensal Green Cemetery and core artist in BBC Africa Beyond's cross-arts project, Translations. Her poetry, stories, plays, libretti, journalism and essays have been published and presented in Poetry Review, Magma Poetry, Philosophy Now, Time Out, The Guardian, Southbank Centre, Tate Britain, They Royal Opera House, Bristol Old Vic, The Foundling Museum, the Bush Theatre, ITV Studios, Kings Place, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, the House of Commons and the Shakespeare & Co Bookshop in Paris and other venues across the UK and abroad.

As a creative producer, Dzifa curates and programmes one-off literary events and multimedia literature festivals and conferences all across the UK. Working as a producer with live literature organisations Renaissance One and Tilt, Dzifa's work encompasses novelists, poets, journalists, broadcasters and thought leaders and the curation, marketing and promotion of book tours, poetry recitals, live literature shows and spoken word performances, talks and speeches.

Working with adults in higher education in universities, community organisations and the creative industries, and with children in primary and secondary schools, Dzifa devises and runs workshops, masterclasses, lectures and seminars specialising in Applied Theatre, collaborative practice and community engagement.

Dzifa is currently developing a transmedia project inspired by DNA, The Spit of Me, an artistic, social and biological investigation into the body's relationship with time, culture, migration, memory and identity. She is currently studying for an MA in Text & Performance at Birkbeck and RADA. She is also a Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critic.

 

"Dzifa" literally means "cool heart" but the true translation is nearer in meaning to the word 'serene'.

 

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Self Portrait as a Creature of Numbers

I shifted into this human life from the spirit world,
the fusion of an egg and a sperm at 8.42 pm, where
Latitude 51° 31' 0 N straddles Longitude 0° -.6’ E.
London, N19 to be exact.

At 8 days my mother out-doored me, crossed
the threshold back and forth 7 times, whispered
a prayer over 3 glasses, dabbed my tongue,
one drop from each - water, honey, salt.
She showed my face to the 4 elements each in turn,
punched 2 holes in my earlobes. To bind mind, body
and spirit to a destiny of life path 1, she took 3
new laid eggs cracked them open over my head.

1st daughter of a 4th son of Ghana, my soul surges
8° 00' north of the equator 2°00' west of the prime meridian.
I march to a four beat over 50,000,000 knots
on this ocean called forever knowing that bigger, better
numbers can be reached by always adding just 1 more.

Sketched from 300 moons minus 3
plus 25 valentine cards I never received, I am ruled
by lustre bouncing off the Evening Star, second planet in,
108,000,000 kilometres from the sun.

If you encounter me in the underground standing
1.66 metres tall on the escalator going up or going down,
know that I own 1001 options raised to the power
of infinity plus 1 - dreamer, sinner, runner.

Always climbing 1 more number. At the very least 1.