Jamaican Poet Launches Arts and Culture Festival in London


Jamaican born poet and musician, Linton Kwesi Johnson, delivered the inaugural October Lecture on October 4, to officially mark the start of activities for the ‘Across the Street, Around the World Festival’, staged by the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, in London.
The Festival, now in its fourth year, is a three-week celebration of arts and culture timed to coincide with Black History Month in the UK, and consists of several events designed to showcase the diversity and multi-culturalism of the famous London borough, which encompasses well-known areas like Portobello Road, Notting Hill, and Harrow Road.
The lecture, which was given at Kensington Town Hall, took the form of Mr. Johnson reading of some of his most famous poems from various stages of his career, such as ‘Reggae Fi Dada’, ‘Sonny’s Lettah’ and ‘Di Great Insohreckshan’, while interspersing the readings with historical context to explain what was happening in his life and in the country that led him to write each poem.
He said that when he was writing his poems of protest in the 1970s and 1980s, he never imagined that he would one day be invited to speak at the Town Hall of the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
Mr. Johnson was born in 1952 in Chapelton, Clarendon and migrated to the United Kingdom at the age of 11. He went on to become one of the pre-eminent voices of his generation. He is only the second living poet and the only black poet to have his work published in the Penguin Classic series, and in 2005 he was awarded a Silver Musgrave medal from the Institute of Jamaica, for distinguished eminence in the field of poetry.
High Commissioner to the UK, His Excellency Anthony Johnson, who attended the lecture, pointed out that Jamaica has produced many outstanding poets.
The ‘Across the Street, Around the World Festival’ will continue until October 23.

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