Dzifa Benson

Writer | Producer | Performance Maker

10525900_10152160680797452_2526146475418650500_n.jpg

Poetry in Performance

Dzifa writes and performs poetry on the page and on the stage and has done so in many print and performance contexts - museums, galleries, pubs, cemetaries, schools and many others. Her poetry practice is typically interdisciplinary and she often collaborates with artists from other disciplines. The following is a selection of some of her poetry performances.

 
Peckham Festival. 2017 - An evening presenting rarely seen archive footage of Peckham through the ages. Working with curator William Warren and Chris Scales of Southwark Archives, Dzifa wrote a specially commissioned poem which she performed to archive ITV footage of the North Peckham Estates.

Peckham Festival. 2017 - An evening presenting rarely seen archive footage of Peckham through the ages. Working with curator William Warren and Chris Scales of Southwark Archives, Dzifa wrote a specially commissioned poem which she performed to archive ITV footage of the North Peckham Estates.

The Venus Papers, JW3, 2017 - Dzifa was guest poet during this performance of writer/performer Lydia Towsey's touring theatrical poetry show, The Venus Papers. The show was one of landscapes, journeys and the tales of 21st century women in these tumultuous times.  

The Venus Papers, JW3, 2017 - Dzifa was guest poet during this performance of writer/performer Lydia Towsey's touring theatrical poetry show, The Venus Papers. The show was one of landscapes, journeys and the tales of 21st century women in these tumultuous times.

 


Inua Ellams' RAP Party 2017 - Curated especially for the Litro Literary Weekender celebrating Ghana and Nigeria, Dzifa read her poetry at this evening of hip-hop inspired poetry.

Inua Ellams' RAP Party 2017 - Curated especially for the Litro Literary Weekender celebrating Ghana and Nigeria, Dzifa read her poetry at this evening of hip-hop inspired poetry.

Museums at Night: The Night House, William Morris Gallery, 2016 - Curated by the Forest Poets and in partnership with The Poetry Society and Jaybird Live Literature, this poetry and music event that took place in his former home celebrated how it might have felt for William Morris to look out on the moon reflected in the moat as he climbed the stairs to bed. Dzifa was one of the headline acts.

Museums at Night: The Night House, William Morris Gallery, 2016 - Curated by the Forest Poets and in partnership with The Poetry Society and Jaybird Live Literature, this poetry and music event that took place in his former home celebrated how it might have felt for William Morris to look out on the moon reflected in the moat as he climbed the stairs to bed. Dzifa was one of the headline acts.


Telling Tales, The Albany, 2015 - One of eight poets invited to perform during the tour, Dzifa presented The Clerk's Tale from  award-winning UK poet Patience Agbabi's re-imagining of Chaucer’s masterpiece The Canterbury Tales.

Telling Tales, The Albany, 2015 - One of eight poets invited to perform during the tour, Dzifa presented The Clerk's Tale from  award-winning UK poet Patience Agbabi's re-imagining of Chaucer’s masterpiece The Canterbury Tales.

Wordkeepers, English PEN, Free Word Centre, 2013 - Who gets to choose the words we use? Where do they come from? And where are they going? Mary Kuper's exhibition was the inspiration for this event in which Dzifa as a poet along with other expert wordsmiths - lexicographer and etymologist John Ayto, Professor Christopher Mulvey of the University of Winchester and English Project, and Free Word Translator in Residence Ollie Brock - explored the English language in an evening of wordplay, poetry and tongue-twisting enquiry.  

Wordkeepers, English PEN, Free Word Centre, 2013 - Who gets to choose the words we use? Where do they come from? And where are they going? Mary Kuper's exhibition was the inspiration for this event in which Dzifa as a poet along with other expert wordsmiths - lexicographer and etymologist John Ayto, Professor Christopher Mulvey of the University of Winchester and English Project, and Free Word Translator in Residence Ollie Brock - explored the English language in an evening of wordplay, poetry and tongue-twisting enquiry.

 


Alien Nation, Great Western Studios, 2011 - Inspired by George Mikes’s 1946 book How to be an Alien and curated by Soapbox Events, this was a month long exhibition exploring the immigrant experience in London. It featured painting, photography, poetry, murals, furniture and illustration.

Alien Nation, Great Western Studios, 2011 - Inspired by George Mikes’s 1946 book How to be an Alien and curated by Soapbox Events, this was a month long exhibition exploring the immigrant experience in London. It featured painting, photography, poetry, murals, furniture and illustration.

Psycho Poetica, BFI, Latitude Festival, Whitechapel Gallery, The Royal Festival Hall 2010 - To mark the 50th anniversary of Hitchcock's iconic film 'Psycho', poet Simon Barraclough created a new poetic version of the film in a collaborative multi-media project with twelve acclaimed poets, including Annie Freud, Emily Berry, Joe Dunthorne, Heather Phillipson and Dzifa. The performances also featured string quartet Bleeding Heart Narrative who scored all the poems in a homage to Bernard Herrmann.

Psycho Poetica, BFI, Latitude Festival, Whitechapel Gallery, The Royal Festival Hall 2010 - To mark the 50th anniversary of Hitchcock's iconic film 'Psycho', poet Simon Barraclough created a new poetic version of the film in a collaborative multi-media project with twelve acclaimed poets, including Annie Freud, Emily Berry, Joe Dunthorne, Heather Phillipson and Dzifa. The performances also featured string quartet Bleeding Heart Narrative who scored all the poems in a homage to Bernard Herrmann.


Because Women's Talents Are Endless!, Benefit Night for the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre, Dingwalls, 2010 - Featuring award-winning comedian Francesca Martinez, comedian Kate Smurthwaite, singer/songwriters Karen Grace, Chloe Vaughan and Shura.  

Because Women's Talents Are Endless!, Benefit Night for the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre, Dingwalls, 2010 - Featuring award-winning comedian Francesca Martinez, comedian Kate Smurthwaite, singer/songwriters Karen Grace, Chloe Vaughan and Shura.

 

Psycho Poetica, Poetry Tent, Latitude Festival, 2010 - Dzifa was one of twelve poets performing this hommage to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho on its 50th anniversary. The performance was scored by a string quartet, Bleeding Heart Narrative.

Psycho Poetica, Poetry Tent, Latitude Festival, 2010 - Dzifa was one of twelve poets performing this hommage to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho on its 50th anniversary. The performance was scored by a string quartet, Bleeding Heart Narrative.


Fresh Off The Page: Mashing the Classics, London Literature Festival, 2009 - Commissioned by Southbank Centre and collaborating with poet and photographer Naomi Woddis as Word Migrants, Dzifa wrote a retelling of the classic fairy tale Beauty & the Beast in which the roles were subverted, featuring a 'Beast' who was an older woman and 'Beauty' was a popular and handsome TV chef. The piece was performed in the foyer of The Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Fresh Off The Page: Mashing the Classics, London Literature Festival, 2009 - Commissioned by Southbank Centre and collaborating with poet and photographer Naomi Woddis as Word Migrants, Dzifa wrote a retelling of the classic fairy tale Beauty & the Beast in which the roles were subverted, featuring a 'Beast' who was an older woman and 'Beauty' was a popular and handsome TV chef. The piece was performed in the foyer of The Queen Elizabeth Hall.

PoetryFilm: Mythology and Dream, Curzon Renoir, 2009 - Dzifa was part of a panel of poets, artists and filmmakers invited to perform and take part in a Q&A for this ocassion of the popular event series of curated and specially commissioned poetry films.  

PoetryFilm: Mythology and Dream, Curzon Renoir, 2009 - Dzifa was part of a panel of poets, artists and filmmakers invited to perform and take part in a Q&A for this ocassion of the popular event series of curated and specially commissioned poetry films.

 


Epitaph, Pistols and Pollinators, Accident & Emergence, 2009 - Collaborating with artist Rosalind Barker, Dzifa explored their common interests in connections between contemporary humanity, the unborn and cultural attitudes to the dead. Inspired by Rosalind's box containing half a human skeleton intended as a tool for Medical/Artistic education, both artists decided to explore their attitudes to this remnant of a once living personality and consciousness. The box, with its 1953 postage stamps and original labels led to an exchange of information with the initial importers, Adam, Rouilly. Tiny fragments of The Financial Times from the early 1950’s were found as part of the packing material and fuelled further speculation. A medical examination of her bones and teeth established a 100-year time line directly connecting her across time and continents from an India under the rule of the British Raj (1858-1947) to our contemporary 21st century culture.

Epitaph, Pistols and Pollinators, Accident & Emergence, 2009 - Collaborating with artist Rosalind Barker, Dzifa explored their common interests in connections between contemporary humanity, the unborn and cultural attitudes to the dead. Inspired by Rosalind's box containing half a human skeleton intended as a tool for Medical/Artistic education, both artists decided to explore their attitudes to this remnant of a once living personality and consciousness. The box, with its 1953 postage stamps and original labels led to an exchange of information with the initial importers, Adam, Rouilly. Tiny fragments of The Financial Times from the early 1950’s were found as part of the packing material and fuelled further speculation. A medical examination of her bones and teeth established a 100-year time line directly connecting her across time and continents from an India under the rule of the British Raj (1858-1947) to our contemporary 21st century culture.

Time Makes Room, The Courtauld Institute of Art, 2009 - Invited by the Institute to be a resident artist for one year in the East Wing, Dzifa created, curated, produced and performed in a series of performances and workshops, a continuous process of transformation, incorporating text, sound and image, evolved with each performance and workshop.

Time Makes Room, The Courtauld Institute of Art, 2009 - Invited by the Institute to be a resident artist for one year in the East Wing, Dzifa created, curated, produced and performed in a series of performances and workshops, a continuous process of transformation, incorporating text, sound and image, evolved with each performance and workshop.


L Stands For, The Word's a Stage, The Albany, 2009 - Mentored by dramaturg and theatre director Yael Shavit, Dzifa presented 20 minutes of new work channeling the hairstyles of Samuel L Jackson in his films as an act of resistance.

L Stands For, The Word's a Stage, The Albany, 2009 - Mentored by dramaturg and theatre director Yael Shavit, Dzifa presented 20 minutes of new work channeling the hairstyles of Samuel L Jackson in his films as an act of resistance.

Poetry & Words Tent, Glastonbury Festival, 2008 - Dzifa performed a poetry set of individual poems at this world famous music festival.

Poetry & Words Tent, Glastonbury Festival, 2008 - Dzifa performed a poetry set of individual poems at this world famous music festival.


Shakespeare & Company Bookshop, Paris, 2008 - Arguably the most famous bookshop in thw world, Dzifa did her first poetry performance away from British soil in the venue which in the past has featured literary luminaries such as James Baldwin, AnaÏs Nin, Bertold Brecht, Jonathan Safran Foer and Jeanette Winterson

Shakespeare & Company Bookshop, Paris, 2008 - Arguably the most famous bookshop in thw world, Dzifa did her first poetry performance away from British soil in the venue which in the past has featured literary luminaries such as James Baldwin, AnaÏs Nin, Bertold Brecht, Jonathan Safran Foer and Jeanette Winterson

Nocturne: The Musuem at Night, The National Gallery 2007 - To find out what goes on at the National Gallery after dark and when there are no more visitors, Dzifa along with seven other poets were invited to explore the eerie corridors of the people-less gallery in order to bring the art to life in night-time tales from the poets, security guards and the paintings themselves.  

Nocturne: The Musuem at Night, The National Gallery 2007 - To find out what goes on at the National Gallery after dark and when there are no more visitors, Dzifa along with seven other poets were invited to explore the eerie corridors of the people-less gallery in order to bring the art to life in night-time tales from the poets, security guards and the paintings themselves.

 


O2 Wireless Festival, Hyde Park, 2005 - Taking place in London every year, Dzifa featured as a poet in the inaugural festival in 2005.

O2 Wireless Festival, Hyde Park, 2005 - Taking place in London every year, Dzifa featured as a poet in the inaugural festival in 2005.

 

Sometimes, Dzifa is called on to host or chair literature events produced by various organisations such as the following:

The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo, London Feminist Film Festival, Tricycle Theatre, 2015 - Screening and panel discussion chaired by Dzifa of Yaba Badoe's film charting the life and creative journey of one of Africa's foremost dramatists and storytellers.

The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo, London Feminist Film Festival, Tricycle Theatre, 2015 - Screening and panel discussion chaired by Dzifa of Yaba Badoe's film charting the life and creative journey of one of Africa's foremost dramatists and storytellers.

Feminist Review, 100th Issue Celebration, Islington Metal Works, 2012 - Dzifa hosted an evening of live music, performance and poetry featuring poet Malika Booker, singer Mohinder Kaur Bhamra, choreographer Anusha Subramanyam, LeaLea Jones BBC Introducing artist and DJ Ritu.

Feminist Review, 100th Issue Celebration, Islington Metal Works, 2012 - Dzifa hosted an evening of live music, performance and poetry featuring poet Malika Booker, singer Mohinder Kaur Bhamra, choreographer Anusha Subramanyam, LeaLea Jones BBC Introducing artist and DJ Ritu.


"Dzifa was possibly for me the highlight of the evening. A real orator who was able to recite her works from memory and used her whole body in expressing the words. This was for me, the definition of poetry; irrespective of whether you connected to the content or use of language, the whole performance for me embodied what true poetry should be. True distinction between writing and poetry in my opinion with a real feeling of the writer’s input, passion and being."
Christopher Digby, Art & Business