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Linton Kwesi Johnson Biography

(1952– ), Voices of the Living and the Dead, Dread Beat an' Blood

British poet, born in Chapeltown, Jamaica; he moved to London in 1963, and was educated at Goldsmiths' College, University of London. Among other posts, he has worked as an Education Officer. Together with Benjamin Zephaniah and John Agard, he is one of the foremost dub poets, all of whom write poetry primarily for performance. Political and social protest, with accompanying demotic rhetoric and articulate anger, are strong elements in Johnson's poems. Even in cold print, their powerful, mesmerizing rhythms demand attention. He is also successful in adapting English rhyme to West Indian speech patterns, as in this stanza from ‘Reggae fi Dada’: ‘o di grass | turn brown | soh many trees | cut doun | an di lan is ovahgrown’. His collections include Voices of the Living and the Dead (1974), Dread Beat an' Blood (1975, recorded 1978), and Inglan Is a Bitch (1980). His recorded works included Forces of Victory (1979), Bass Culture (1980), and Making History (1984). Tings and Times: Selected Poems (1991) was released as both a book and a recording.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Tama Janowitz Biography to P(atrick) J(oseph Gregory) Kavanagh Biography