Arts & Culture
Linton Kwesi Johnson: New Craas Massahkah
30 August 2021
Southbank Centre | Free
Riverside, Level 1
Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX
In an outdoor audio installation, the poet reads his elegy for the 14 young people who died as a result of a house fire in New Cross, south-east London in 1981.
Though no one has ever been convicted for these deaths, many people believe the fire was a racially motivated arson attack.
The poem uses a combination of Jamaican Patois and English to capture the anguish at the loss of these lives and express rage at the indifferent response from the police, the media, and the justice system.
Johnson published it with a dedication ‘to the memory of the fourteen dead’, to include the 13 who perished in the 1981 fire and a 14th party goer who survived that night but died in 1983 in what many believe was a suicide as a result of his trauma.Book your tickets here
Award-winning reggae poet Linton Kwesi Johnson was born in Jamaica and came to London in 1963.
In the 1970s he was in the Black Panthers and worked at the Keskidee Centre, Britain’s first home of Black theatre and art.
His first poetry collection, Voices of the Living and the Dead, came out in 1974, and in 2002 he became only the second living poet and the first Black poet to have been published by Penguin Classics.
Johnson’s first album, Dread Beat an’ Blood, was released in 1978; he has since released 14 more.
Header Image: Linton Kwesi Johnson (c) Glasgow Poetry Club