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Linton Kwesi Johnson: Selected Poems


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Revised edition, with an afterword and new poems by the author and an introduction by Gary Younge

‘Linton Kwesi Johnson’s body of work – the sheer length, breadth, depth, politics, performance, rhyme and reason of it – bears witness to a lifetime of lending lyrical form to a condition that Britain has proved unable or unwilling (or both) to name’ Gary Younge 

Pioneering poet Linton Kwesi Johnson has revolutionised English literature with his electrifying fusion of oral verse, Jamaican speech, radical politics and reggae rhythms. This new edition of a vital selection of poems covers more than four decades and includes classic early poems such as ‘Inglan is a Bitch’, ‘New Craas Massakah’ and ‘Sonny’s Lettah’, as well as compelling recent work.

‘Linton Kwesi Johnson’s impact on the cultural landscape over the last half-century has been colossal and multi-generational . . . His political ferocity and his tireless scrutiny of history are truly Pinteresque, as is the humour with which he pursues them’ Alison Flood, Guardian

Linton Kwesi Johnson was born in 1952 in Chapelton, Jamaica. He came to London in 1963 and later read 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. His first book of poems, Voices of the Living and the Dead, was published by Race Today in 1974. His second book, Dread, Beat An’ Blood (Bogle L’Ouverture, 1975) signalled the emergence of a new voice in Caribbean poetry, and was followed by Inglan is a Bitch and Tings An’ Times. LKJ has enjoyed a successful career as a reggae artist on the global stage for over four decades. In 2020, Linton Kwesi Johnson won the PEN Pinter Prize. He lives in Brixton, south London.


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