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Linton Kwesi Johnson
Poet and activist

Linton Kwesi Johnson is known and revered as the world's first dub poet. Born in Chapelton, a small town in the parish of Clarendon, Jamaica, he came to England in 1963, went to Tulse Hill Secondary School, and studied sociology at Goldsmiths' College, University of London.

Whilst still at school, he joined the Black Panthers, helped to organise a poetry workshop within the organisation and developed his work with Rasta Love, a group of poets and drummers. In 1977 he was awarded a C Day Lewis Fellowship, becoming the writer-in-residence for the London Borough of Lambeth for that year. He went on to work as the Library Resources and Education Officer at the Keskidee Centre, the first home for black theatre and art.

Johnson's poems first appeared in the journal Race Today. In 1974 Race Today published his first collection of poetry, Voices of the Living and the Dead. Dread Beat an' Blood, his second collection, was published in 1975 by Bogle-L'Ouverture and was also the title of his first LP, released by Virgin in 1978. That year also saw the release of the film Dread Beat an' Blood, a documentary on Johnson's work. In 1980 Race Today published his third book, Inglan is a Bitch and there were four more albums on the Island label: Forces of Victory (1979) Bass Culture (1980), LKJ in Dub (1981) and Making History (1983). His most recent album is LKJ a Capella Live, a collection of 14 poems including some unpublished works.

Linton Kwesi Johnson has been made an Associate Fellow of Warwick University, an Honorary Fellow of Wolverhampton Polytechnic and received an award at the 13th Premo Internazionale Ultimo Novecento from the city of Pisa for his contribution to poetry and popular music. He has toured the world from Japan to South Africa, Europe to Brazil, and is the only living poet to be published by Penguin Classics.




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