Loyle Carner & Benjamin Zephaniah

A poet and a songwriter talk about their dyslexia:

The poet dates the songwriter’s mum:

When you write songs or poetry, in English or in any language, it’s the shape of the word in your mouth, not on the page, that matters. Sound lives in the air. Meaning weaves around it in our minds.

Don’t ever take dyslexia as a barrier to songwriting, rapping or poetry. Loyle Carner and Benjamin Zephaniah are proof that the page is only one of many places for words to live.

“Most dyslexic people are really sexy”

Benjamin Zephaniah

© Sing Better English 2019


8 thoughts on “Loyle Carner & Benjamin Zephaniah”

  1. Thank you for this wonderful post! Strange that I’d never before considered the impact of dyslexia on songwriting, since my own husband is dyslexic — but as you show here with such insight, as a result he focuses much more on the sound of words than on their orthography. Maybe that’s why he’s such a wonderful writer (even if he occasionally swaps “sweetie” for “sweaty”).


    1. Thanks for your comment, Heide. I really hope your husband was well-supported at school and beyond. I know that dyslexia can be a source of great unhappiness for people who feel it as a lack, rather than a difference. It’s lovely to see Benjamin Zephaniah and Loyle Carner being able to bring language to life without having to decipher it from the page first. Words do live in our minds first and foremost.

      And here’s a rather wonderful video of Irving Finkel of the British Museum talking about cuneiform. For no good reason than that written English must be as opaque to an English speaker with dyslexia as cuneiform is to us nowadays:


      1. You are so kind, dear E. Yes indeed, my husband felt supported both at home and at school — once they figured out why he had such difficulty with reading. I often joke with him that perhaps they remedied the dyslexia *too* well, because now he is an insatiable reader.

        And a HUGE thank you for that marvelous video! What a charming, funny fellow that Mr. Finkel is — and what a brilliant teacher. Just like you! Thank you (as always) for making my world so much richer and more interesting.


      2. Dr Finkel’s straight out of Central Casting as the British Museum curator of all things Mesopotamian. In person, he’s lovely and he fizzes with long white beard energy. They’ve even made a Lego model of him!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ha, ha! I think you mean a “special Heide Lego INaction figure.” 🙂 And I can’t decide which is more charming, between your description of the video and Dr. Finkel himself. Thank you for the huge smile I’m wearing right now, dear E.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Your action figure will have a camera in one hand and some delightful treat from a Parisian bakery in the other. And a photo album of gorgeous light and humanity. There, it’s designed. 🙂


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