LKJ wins literary award


LKJ wins literary award

Associate Editor --
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Wednesday, July 08, 2020

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JAMAICAN-BORN poet/musician Linton Kwesi Johnson (LKJ) yesterday won a major British literary award, PEN Pinter Prize 2020, for his unwavering commitment to political expressions.

Johnson, 67, was elated at the accolade bestowed upon him.

“Having received a Golden PEN award from English PEN in 2013, I was surprised to learn that, seven years later, I have now been awarded the PEN Pinter Prize. Awards are the nourishment of every artist's ego. It is always nice to be acknowledged. It is especially gratifying to receive an award that honours the memory of esteemed dramatist, Harold Pinter, free thinker, anti-imperialist and human rights champion,” he was quoted in the Belfast Telegraph as saying.

“I would like to thank English PEN and the judges for their kind consideration in honouring me again,” he continued.

Johnson is slated to receive the award in a digital ceremony on October 12.

Launched in 2009, the PEN Pinter Prize was set up in memory of British playwright/actor/director Harold Pinter. The Nobel-Laureate died in December 2008.

The PEN Pinter Prize is awarded to a British writer or a writer resident in Britain of outstanding literary merit who, in the words of Pinter's 2005 Nobel prize speech, casts an “unflinching, unswerving' gaze upon the world and shows a fierce, intellectual determination … to define the real truth of our lives and our societies”.

Born in rural Jamaica, Johnson migrated to the UK in 1963 when he was 11 years old. As a teenager, he joined the British Black Panther Movement which decidedly shaped his political consciousness. He found his voice as a poet and performed with Rasta Love, a group of upful poets and drummers.

In a 2008 interview, he emphatically declared that “writing was a political act and poetry was a cultural weapon”.

Johnson's poems were first published in the journal, Race Today, which also released his first collection of poetry, Voices of the Living and the Dead, in 1974. He has the distinction of being the first black poet published in the Penguin Modern Classics. That collection is entitled Mi Revalueshanary Fren.

He has more than 20 albums to his credit including Poet And the Roots (Virgin, 1978) and the three-volume LKJ in Dub on the Island label.

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