CSULA Department of English | Events

Linton Kwesi
Johnson, founder of "dub" poetry and called the
first reggae poet, will be the guest reader/artist at the 2005 Jean Burden Poetry Reading. This year's
reading is scheduled for Thursday, April 21, 2005 at 7:00
pm in the Golden Eagle Ballroom on the Cal State LA
campus. Johnson's
appearance in the Jean
Burden Poetry Series
is made
possible through the additional support of the
British Council USA.

Linton Kwesi
Johnson was born on 24 August 1952 in Chapelton, a small
town in the rural parish of Clarendon, Jamaica. He came to
London 

Image of Linton Kwesi Johnson

in 1963, went to Tulse Hill secondary school and
later 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
movement 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 of 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).

LKJ,
Johnson's own record label, was launched in 1981 with two
singles by the Jamaican poet Michael Smith, Mi Cyaan Believe It and Roots.
During the 1980s he became immersed in journalism, working
closely with the Brixton-based Race Today collective. His
10-part radio series on Jamaican popular music, From
Mento to Lovers Rock
, went out on BBC Radio 1 in
1982 and was repeated in 1983. From 1985-88 he was a
reporter on Channel 4's The Bandung File. He also
toured regularly with the Dennis Bovell Dub Band and
produced albums by the writer Jean Binta Breeze and by
jazz trumpeter Shake Keane.

Recorded
at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, the album LKJ
Live in Concert with the Dub Band
was released
independently in 1985 and was nominated for a Grammy Award
soon after. This was followed by Tings
An' Times
in 1991, also the title of his Selected
Poems co-published by Bloodaxe Books and LKJ Music
Publishers the same year. In 1992 Linton Kwesi Johnson and
Dennis Bovell collaborated to produce LKJ
in Dub: Volume Two
. In 1996 the album LKJ Presents
was released, a compilation of various artists
including Linton Kwesi Johnson. This was followed in the
same year by LKJ
A Cappella Live
, a collection of 14 poems without
music. In 1998 Johnson released More Time
to celebrate his twentieth anniversary in the
recording business. Island also released a two-CD
compilation set entitled Independant
Intavenshan
. In 2002 Linton Kwesi Johnson became
only the second living poet and the first black poet to
have his work published in Penguin’s Modern Classics
series, under the title Mi Revalueshanary Fren:
Selected Poems
. The BBC made a TV programme about
LKJ’s poetry, shown in their Profile series
on BBC 4. In this year Johnson also released the CD LKJ
in Dub: Volume Three
. To mark his 25th
anniversary as a reggae recording artist, Linton Kwesi
Johnson released a CD and, for the first time ever, a DVD
in 2004 entitled LKJ Live in Paris with the Dennis
Bovell Dub Band
>.

Linton
Kwesi Johnson has been made an Associate Fellow of Warwick
University (1985), an Honorary Fellow of Wolverhampton
Polytechnic (1987) and received an award at the XIII Premo
Internazionale Ultimo Novecento from the city of Pisa for
his contribution to poetry and popular music (1990). In
1998 he was awarded the Premio Piero Ciampi Citta di
Livorno Concorso Musicale Nazionale in Italy. In 2003
Johnson was bestowed with an honorary fellowship from his
alma mater, Goldsmiths College, part of the University of
London. In 2004 LKJ became an Honorary Visiting Professor
of Middlesex University in London. He has toured the world
from Japan to the new South Africa, from Europe to Brazil.
His recordings are amongst the top-selling reggae
albums in the world and his work has been translated into
Italian and German. Unsurprisingly, he is known and
revered as the world's first reggae poet.

For more information, call the Cal State L.A. English Department at (323) 343-4140.

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