August 24, 2006

Happy Birthday, Linton Kwesi Johnson

Linton Kwesi Johnson (aka LKJ) (born 24 August 1952, in Chapelton, Jamaica) is a British-based Dub poet. He became only the second living poet to be published in the Penguin Classics series. His poetry involves the recitation of his own verse in Jamaican Creole over dub-reggae, usually written in collaboration with renowned British reggae producer/artist Dennis Bovell .

Most of Johnson's poetry is political, dealing mainly with the experiences of being an African-Caribbean in Britain. However, he has also shown himself more than capable of writing about other issues, such as British foreign policy or the death of anti-racist marcher Blair Peach. His most celebrated poems were written during the government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The poems contain graphic accounts of the often racist police brutality occurring at the time.
Johnson's best known albums include his debut Dread Beat An' Blood, Forces of Victory, Bass Culture and Making History. Across these albums are spread classics of the dub poetry school of performance - and, indeed, of reggae itself - such as Dread Beat An' Blood, Sonny's Lettah, Inglan Is A Bitch and Independent Intavenshan.

When written, Johnson's poetry makes clever use of the unstandardised transcription of Jamaican Creole. Of late, Johnson has only performed live on an intermittent basis, perhaps a result of modern reggae's shift towards more spontaneous and rapid-fire performers of raggamuffin or dancehall. Others have speculated that he is aging and cannot keep up with the demands of a world tour.

Recently, a collection of his poems were published as "Mi Revalueshanary Fren" by Penguin Modern Classics. Johnson is one of three poets to be published by Penguin Modern Classics while still alive. Johnson's record label LKJ Records is home to other reggae artists, some of whom made up The Dub Band, with whom Johnson mostly recorded, and other Dub Poets, such as Jean Binta Breeze.

Johnson attended Goldsmiths College in New Cross, London, which currently holds his personal papers in its archives.

From Wikipedia.


Stephen A. Bess said...

Officially, this is where I come to learn about writers from the Caribbean. Thank you, sir.


Geoffrey Philp said...

Stephen, thank you for the compliment. I mean that. Just remember, that this is a personal blog and reflects my particular tastes in Caribbean writers. For example, there are some who would object to my exclusion of Jean Rhys, and there are some writers such as Nicolas Guillen whose work I've read, but I don't feel qualified to offer an opinion. I have hoped for a very long time that an institution would take over this task and become a clearing house of information on Caribbean writers and offer livications like these to honor our unsung heroes.Or that others would join in--give thanks for your piece on Fanon. There is also the matter of time. I'm a working writer and these posts (blogging) can consume time that could be spent working on the next short story, poem, or novel, which are also important. This is why I've now limited myself to posting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. But we'll see how long that lasts.
Till then, these are my idiosyncratic choices.

Here's an excellent source for information Caribbean writers Fifty Caribbean Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook
by Daryl Cumber Dance (Editor)

Stephen A. Bess said...

Geoffrey, thanks for that. I look into the source that you recommended. Also, I understand because I need to put more of my time into writing for publication. For me, It's just a matter of doing it. Peace~

Geoffrey Philp said...

Any time, Stephen. Any time.