In Conversation: Linton Kwesi Johnson and Caryl Phillips
When: Fri 4 Oct 2013, 18:30-20:00
Where: Conference Centre, British Library
Price: £7.50 / £5 concessions
Two UK writers have consistently garnered international acclaim and awards for the last three decades. They also happen to be black. Linton Kwesi Johnson, reggae poet and political activist, and Caryl Phillips, novelist, academic and critic, have inspired generations with their thoughtful and incisive writing which, in one way or another, looks at notions of identity. Johnson’s rhythm-infused lyrics and Phillips’s concise prose explore racial oppression and questions what it means to belong – and together they’ve changed the landscape of writing in Britain and beyond. Join them in a rare conversation, with Maya Jaggi, about their work and lives.
Linton Kwesi Johnson’s first volume of poems, Voices of the Living and the Dead, appeared in 1974. His landmark second collection, Dread Beat An’ Blood (1975) was also recorded as an album, and a film of the same name was made by the BBC as a documentary. His other volumes and albums of poems include Forces of Victory (1979), Bass Culture (1980), Inglan Is A Bitch (1980), Making History (1984), Tings An’ Times (1991) and More Time (1998). Mi Revalueshanary Fren: Selected Poems was published in May 2002 by Penguin Books in their Modern Classics Series. Johnson is only the second living poet to be honoured this way. Celebrated as the first reggae poet, he has toured the globe and his recordings are amongst the top-selling reggae albums in the world. In 2004 he became an Honorary Visiting Professor of Middlesex University and is also an Honorary Fellow of his alma mater, Goldsmiths College.
Caryl Phillips was born in St.Kitts, grew up in Leeds and studied English Literature at Oxford University. He has written many award-winning dramas for stage, TV, radio and screen, including Strange Fruit, Where There is Darkness and Playing Away. Literary awards include the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize and Guggenheim Fellowship. A Distant Shore won the 2004 Commonwealth Writers Prize; Dancing in the Dark won the 2006 PEN/Beyond the Margins Award. Caryl has taught at universities in Ghana, Sweden, Singapore, Barbados, India, and the United States; currently he is Professor of English at Yale University. He is an Honorary Fellow of The Queen’s College, Oxford University, and a regular contributor to The Guardian and The New Republic.
Maya Jaggi’s award-winning cultural journalism gained her an honorary doctorate from The Open University in 2012 for her outstanding contribution to education and culture. An arts profile-writer and critic for The Guardian for more than a decade, she also writes for publications including Financial Times and Newsweek. As a broadcaster and presenter she has contributed to radio and television, featuring on the panel for Radio 4’s Any Questions? and writing and presenting a BBC TV documentary on Chilean artist Isabel Allende.
In association with the Institute of English Studies and Speaking Volumes