Thursday, 1 December 2011

Be Nice to your Turkeys this Christmas...

It’s December and Christmas is on the way, so I’ve decided to celebrate with an Advent Bookfest, which will include poems, readings, diary entries, a bit of general information about the season, the odd recipe or two and, perhaps, some reviews!

First off is Benjamin Zephaniah’s Talking Turkeys!, which is one of my favourite poems – and not just because I’m vegetarian. Written originally for children, it’s a fun poem, which always makes me laugh, but there’s underlying edge there about animal cruelty, and the ethics of eating meat, as well as the real meaning of Christmas and the commercialisation that surrounds it. I also see this poem as a plea for us to accept people for what they are, and not to condemn those who are ‘different’ .

I like Zephaniah because he shows that poetry doesn’t have to be ‘posh’ or full of high-flown language, and that it’s not something to be treated reverentially. Instead he makes it very accessible, writing about issues like racism and social justice in his own inimitable style.
Anyway, without more ado, here is the poem – I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas
Cos' turkeys just wanna hav fun
Turkeys are cool, turkeys are wicked
An every turkey has a Mum.
Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas,
Don't eat it, keep it alive,
It could be yu mate, an not on your plate
Say, Yo! Turkey I'm on your side.
I got lots of friends who are turkeys
An all of dem fear christmas time,
Dey wanna enjoy it, dey say humans destroyed it
An humans are out of dere mind,
Yeah, I got lots of friends who are turkeys
Dey all hav a right to a life,
Not to be caged up an genetically made up
By any farmer an his wife.

Turkeys just wanna play reggae
Turkeys just wanna hip-hop
Can yu imagine a nice young turkey saying,
“I cannot wait for de chop”,
Turkeys like getting presents, dey wanna watch christmas TV,
Turkeys hav brains an turkeys feel pain
In many ways like yu an me.

I once knew a turkey called........ Turkey
He said "Benji explain to me please,
Who put de turkey in christmas
An what happens to christmas trees?",
I said "I am not too sure turkey
But it’s nothing to do wid Christ Mass
Humans get greedy an waste more dan need be
An business men mek loadsa cash.”

Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas
Invite dem indoors fe sum greens
Let dem eat cake an let dem partake
In a plate of organic grown beans,
Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas
An spare dem de cut of de knife,
Join Turkeys United an dey'll be delighted
An yu will mek new friends 'FOR LIFE'. 

Talking Turkeys! Is from From Talking Turkeys, published  by Puffin Books. If you’ve never read of  Benjamin Zephaniah ‘s poetry you’ll find samples of his work, alongside details about him, at http://www.benjaminzephaniah

Photo of  Benjamin Zephaniah by David Morris, reproduced under Creative Commons Licence.


  1. love this poem so uplifting and funny; makes me want to change this christmas for the better. My daughter has to annotate it for school and im trying to help her buts its been so long since i studyed poetry and if im honest i dont think im helping at all!

    1. I love it too, but I don't think I could annotate it!

  2. Ben Zephaniah foe president!