Linton Kwesi Johnson, Jamaican poet


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“I am often asked why I started to write poetry. The answer is that my motivation sprang from a visceral need to creatively articulate the experiences of the black youth of my generation, coming of age in a racist society.” ~ Linton Kwesi Johnson LKJ

Linton Kwesi Johnson’s work has always been political, vital and necessary, drawing attention to topics like systemic racism, police abuse and National Front attacks, calling for government, institutions and society to be held to account. His performances are gripping and true to a quote he gave in a 2008 interview: “Writing was a political act and poetry was a cultural weapon.”

The legendary reggae poet and social activist was born in Jamaica before moving to London. He was a member of the Black Panthers and the poetry editor of political magazine Race Today, using the platform to introduce important ideas and new voices to the British public, including Michael Smith and Oku Onuora.

In 1974 Race Today published Johnson’s first collection of poetry: Voices of the Living and the Dead. He has had four more books published and in 2002 became only the second living poet and the first black poet to have his work included in Penguin’s Modern Classics series, under the title Mi Revalueshanary Fren: Selected Poem. One of his best known poems, Inglan’ is a Bitch, was part of the self titled 1980 collection and the ablum Bass Culture.

Johnson’s first album, Dread Beat An Blood was released in 1978, and since then he has released 14 more albums made with long-time collaborator, dub producer Dennis Bovell. He has been running his own record label, LKJ Records, since 1981, bringing new artists to the attention of wider audiences. (text by

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