Linton Kwesi Johnson is a Jamaican-born British national whose work focuses on African Caribbean cultural expressions in poetry and reggae music, from both sides of the Atlantic. The program of events for Johnson’s brief tenure at NYU-IAAA will include examining these fields of artistic creativity. Johnson will also take the opportunity to draw on the expertise of some eminent friends in the academy with the aim of engaging students and members of the public in the discussions.
Friday, September 19, 2014 / 7:30 pm
PROGRAM: Linton Kwesi Johnson main lecture “African Consciousness in Reggae Music.”
LOCATION: Kimmel Center-NYU, 60 Washington Square South, Rosenthal Pavilion, 10th Floor, NY, NY
Tuesday, September 23, 2014 / 7:00 pm
PROGRAM: An evening of poetry with Linton Kwesi Johnson followed by discussion chaired by British Caribbean novelist and essayist, Caryl Phillips, Professor of English at Yale University.
LOCATION: Kimmel Center-NYU, 60 Washington Square South, E&L Auditorium, 4th Floor, NY, NY
Friday, September 26, 2014 / 6:00 pm
PROGRAM: Mervyn Morris, Jamaica’s poet laureate, talk on Louise Bennett, the mother of Jamaican language poetry followed by discussion chaired by Linton Kwesi Johnson.
LOCATION: D’Agostino Hall, NYU Law School, 108 West Third Street, Room: Lipton Hall, NY, NY
Friday, October 10, 2014 / 6:00 pm
PROGRAM: An evening of Caribbean poetry with Kwame Dawes (Jamaica/Ghana), Lauren Alleyne (Trinidad) and Vladimir Lucien (St. Lucia) and Olive Senior (Jamaica) reading from their works chaired by Kwame Dawes.
LOCATION: D’Agostino Hall, NYU Law School, 108 West Third Street, Room: Lipton Hall. NY, NY
ABOUT LINTON KWESI JOHNSON
“…the newest and most original poetic form to have emerged in the English language in the last quarter century.”— Fred D’Aguiar, poet and novelist
“…his poetry is meant to recoup lost structures, identities, pure ‘rhythm and roots,’ poetry integrating audience and performer in one collective voice.” — Cyril Dabydeen, World Literature Today
“The name Linton Kwesi Johnson conjures up images of leadership, strong views and direction. He is the acknowledged head of the new wave of performance poets, whose words welded politics and social conscience with a potent challenge to those in power.” — Sharon Atkin, The Caribbean Times
Linton Kwesi Johnson was born in Chapleton, in the parish of Clarendon, Jamaica. After moving to London at an early age and later attending the University of London’s Goldsmiths College, he began writing politically charged poetry. While studying at the University of London, Johnson joined the Black Panther movement. He started a poetry workshop, working with other poets and musicians, to address issues of racial equality and social justice. Johnson’s dub poetry, with its culturally specific Jamaican patois dialect and reggae backbeat, was a precursor to the spoken word and rap music movements. Johnson (also known as “LKJ”) remains a prolific writer and performer. His three books of poetry, 1974’s Voices of the Living and the Dead, 1975’s Dread, Beat An’ Blood and 1980’s Inglan Is A Bitch, gained wide recognition, especially among the politically and social conscious. In 2002, Johnson became the first black poet and the second living poet to be published in the prestigious Penguin Modern Classics series. He also released several albums of his work, including Dread Beat An’ Blood and Forces of Victory, both released in the late 1970s; and Bass Culture and Making History, in 1980 and 1984, respectively.
Some of Johnson’s distinguished awards include an Honorary Visiting Professorship at Middlesex University in London (2004), and a silver Musgrave medal from the Institute of Jamaica for distinguished eminence in the field of poetry (2005). His work has been translated into several languages and he has toured extensively throughout Europe, Japan, South Africa, Brazil and other nations. Commenting on why he started to write poetry, Johnson said, “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” (The Guardian; March 28, 2012). (Source: “Linton Kwesi Johnson.” Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web)