SUNDAY

Penguin will soon make Linton Kwesi Johnson one of only two still-breathing poets to be published in its Modern Classics Series, so even if he cares not one iota for this designation, the man has a legitimate claim to the mantle of “living legend.” Jamaican-born and raised in England during the ’60s, Johnson was imbued with the seductive rhythms of his heritage and hardened by the political and social realities facing a black man coming of age in a Britain unprepared for racial diversification. His classic Dread Beat an Blood was a galvanizing force of dub poetry set to the tight reggae rhythms of Dennis Bovell’s Matumbi band. On that disc, Johnson offers: “No matter what they say…we are here to stay inna England.” That fact is surely no longer in doubt, but old battle lines remain. Just as he chronicled the police mistreatment of George Lindo (“It Dread Inna Inglan”) then, Johnson addresses current events on more recent efforts: More Time name-checks Prime Ministers Thatcher and Blair and offers an ode to the poet May Ayim, who committed suicide in 1996. Always elegant in defiance and reflection, Johnson is not to be missed on this rare tour with longtime collaborator Bovell. They’ll be here at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15, at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $20. (202) 393-0930. (Mark Williams)