Review of the Time Come audiobook by Linton Kwesi Johnson – Effortless writing from the revolutionary poet.
Linton Kwesi Johnson is best known for 1975’s Dread Beat an’ Blood, the book of poetry he later recorded as an album, setting the verse against a dub reggae backdrop and releasing it under the moniker Poet and the Roots. More albums followed, with Johnson becoming known as the “dub poet”, though he is also a prolific writer of prose, as illustrated by Time Come, a collection of essays, obituaries and speeches spanning 45 years.
The book is organized into categories such as music, literature, politics, places, and people. In these sections, Johnson discusses topics such as the 1981 New Cross fire, which occurred in south-east London and resulted in the deaths of 13 young Black individuals due to a possible racist attack at a party. He also reflects on the influence of Margaret Thatcher’s policies on the Black community and expresses his affection for Brixton. Additionally, the book includes evaluations of notable figures such as Wole Soyinka, Bob Marley, and Lee “Scratch” Perry.
At 71 years old, Johnson narrates with a gravelly voice. He effortlessly captures the rhythms in the writing, which touches on themes of racial injustice, the Black British experience, and his Caribbean roots. Johnson was born in Jamaica and joined his parents in London at the age of 11. One of the standout essays is Jamaican Rebel Music, first published in 1976. In this essay, Johnson explores how reggae is a powerful social and political force. He notes that the music embodies the common history, burdens, suffering, endurance, strength, poverty, and pain of Jamaicans.
The book “Time Come: Selected Prose” by Linton Kwesi Johnson can be found on Picador and has a running time of 7 hours and 15 minutes.
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