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Linton Kwesi Johnson – If I Was a Top notch Poet

Linton Kwesi Johnson (aka LKJ) is a UK-based dub poet. In 2002 he became the second living poet, and the only black poet, to be published in the Penguin Modern Classics series.

In 1977 Johnson received a C. Day Lewis Fellowship. He was made an Associate Fellow of Warwick University in 1985, an Honorary Fellow of Wolverhampton Polytechnic in 1987, and in 1990 received an award at the XIII Premo Internazionale Ultimo Novecento from the city of Pisa for his contribution to poetry and popular music. 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, University of London. In 2004 he became an Honorary Visiting Professor of¬†Middlesex University¬†in London. In 2005 he was awarded a silver¬†Musgrave Medal¬†from the¬†Institute of Jamaica¬†for distinguished eminence in the field of poetry.¬†In 2012, he was awarded the¬†Golden PEN Award¬†by¬†English PEN¬†for “a Lifetime’s Distinguished Service to Literature”.

He is a Trustee of the George Padmore Institute.

Johnson’s work, allied to the Jamaican “toasting” tradition, is regarded as an essential precursor of¬†rap.¬†Johnson’s best-known albums include his debut¬†Dread Beat an’ Blood¬†(1978),¬†Forces of Victory¬†(1979),¬†Bass Culture¬†(1980) and¬†Making History¬†(1983). Across these albums are spread classics of the dub poetry school of performance ‚Äď and, indeed, of reggae itself ‚Äď such as “Dread Beat An’ Blood”, “Sonny’s Lettah”, “Inglan Is A Bitch”, “Independent Intavenshan” and “All Wi Doin Is Defendin”. His poem¬†Di Great Insohreckshan¬†is his response to the¬†1981 Brixton riots.¬†The work was the subject of a¬†BBC Radio 4¬†program in 2007.

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