Linton Kwesi Johnson : Artist-in-Residence, NYU

Institute of African American Affairs

New York University


linton kwesi johnson

Linton Kwesi Johnson


Fall 2014

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. Space is limited. Programs are free and open to the public. Please RSVP at (212) 998 – IAAA (4222).  


 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

 Programs will be introduced by Dr. Ifeona Fulani,

Global Liberal Studies Program, New York University

Space is limited. Programs are free and open to the public.

Please RSVP at (212) 998 – IAAA (4222). 

Please visit for further info and updates. 


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)

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