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Lillian Allen
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Lillian Allen emerged as a leading influential figure on the Canadian cultural landscape. She is an award winning and internationally renowned poet and writer of short stories and Plays. As one of its lead originator, she has specialized in the writing and performing of dub poetry, a highly politicized form of poetry, which is sometimes set to music. Lillian is also responsible for opening up the form to insist and engrave feminist content and sensibilities. Her recordings 'Revolutionary Tea Party' and 'Conditions Critical' won Juno awards in 1986 and 1988 respectively. Her works appear independently and in anthologies. She has spent almost four decades writing, publishing, and performing her work in Canada, The US, Europe, and England. She has also worked in film, both as a featured artist (Revolution from de Beat, 1995; Unnatural Causes, 1989; Rhythm and Hardtimes 1987) and as co-producer and co-director of Blak.. Wi Blakk... (1994), a film on Jamaican dub Poet Mutabaruka.
Lillian Allen emerged as a leading influential figure on the Canadian cultural landscape. She is an award winning and internationally renowned poet and writer of short stories and Plays. As one of its lead originator, she has specialized in the writing and performing of dub poetry, a highly politicized form of poetry, which is sometimes set to music. Lillian is also responsible for opening up the form to insist and engrave feminist content and sensibilities. Her recordings 'Revolutionary Tea Party' and 'Conditions Critical' won Juno awards in 1986 and 1988 respectively. Her works appear independently and in anthologies. She has spent almost four decades writing, publishing, and performing her work in Canada, The US, Europe, and England. She has also worked in film, both as a featured artist (Revolution from de Beat, 1995; Unnatural Causes, 1989; Rhythm and Hardtimes 1987) and as co-producer and co-director of Blak.. Wi Blakk... (1994), a film on Jamaican dub Poet Mutabaruka.

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Lillian Allen Online Dedication

Stating “We’re all anxious for a change, transformation…” she connects the dots between continents, islands, miles of land and seawater. It’s as if she speaks in the voice of our world.
– Kim Dominique Ferguson, Reviewing Lillian Allen’s CD ‘Anxiety’

"Allen's poems are not for those seeking respite or solace from the world... instead they offer unflinching exploration of consequences of colonialism, racism and the rage that bristles below the surface of society for black people"
Irene D'Souza, Quill &  Quire

Allen's work may be seen as a form of popular education. Her classroom is the streets,the concert, the reading - wherever a community of listeners and cultural workers are called together to register joy in the struggles for social change"
Brenda Carr, Ariel Journal

"Lillian Allen is a vocal resistor who has broken many barriers of silence about female culture and identity. She has utilized her voice and her poetics to challenge explicitly and implicitly, the power relationship within society, between men and women and among women. She dared to be different, to call into questions norms of society. Allen has stood up for her rights, followed her inner voice, her truth and her spirit. In so doing, she has validated not only her own existence but  the existence of female culture.
Sheila Nopper, Herizons Magazine

I first met Lillian after seeing her perform at Carleton University, while writing a review for the University of Ottawa newspaper, just after the release of RTP. It fully inspired me speak poetry! The next time I saw her was camping at Killbear provincial park!! It made it OK for me to be an urban poet and, at the same time, love camping!
– Anthony Bansfield

I first met Lillian Allen in 1986 and as I was just starting out as a young poet / performer in the wake of an 80's restrictive aesthetic that for the most-part was anti-sound and performance, she was instrumental in showing me how sound body gesture; language could be used, played with, sounding and resounding, affecting the world, aesthetically, politically. There were not a lot of women role models working inside language in this way. And, coupled with her fearless, focussed  sense of sound and anti-hegemonic urgency she helped navigate me. And every morning I hear her voice with me as I'm "stirring the coffee"
Adeena Karasick

I have known Lillian Allen for over a decade.  I first became familiar with her poetry when I was hosting a spoken word radio show. At that time (the early 90's) there weren't a lot of Canadian spoken word recordings out there.  What struck me about Lillian's work was how she used her voice as an instrument, and how through that medium, she was able to address and embody issues of culture, politics and empowerment.  At a time when much poetry seemed overly-cerebral and lifeless, Lillian's work was a full-bodied, textured, sensory experience. 

Since that time, I have been amazed by Lillian's generosity - to her students, to young poets in the community and to the Canadian cultural landscape as a whole.  Lillian's contributions have been numerous, and the impact she has had on the next generation of poets and spoken word artists - immeasurable. 

On a personal level, Lillian has taught me many things, but the most valuable lesson has been to always strive for excellence as an artist, and to always bring love to the classroom as an educator. 

Lillian Allen is a gift to our community.  And she is also a truly lovely human being.  Congratulations for this honour, Lillian.  It is well deserved.
Andrea Thompson

I'm a Phd candidate at OISE and am currently writing a thesis about Studio D. Lillian - more than anyone - was the most warm, open, and generous interview I conducted for this research project. She spoke her truth freely and liberated me in the process. There's a groundedness to Lillian's feminism that centres anyone in her presence. Thank you Lillian for your voice, your poetry, your tireless spirit and your willingness to talk so openly with me about relational feminism and race. It's a conversation I'll never forget.
 Jenny Febbraro

In her essay, ‘Come Mek Wi Work Together’: Community Witness and Social Agency in Lillian Allen’s Dub Poetry, Brenda Carr describes Lillian Allen as ‘Jamaican-Canadian dub poet, arts activist, community worker, and mother— performing a transformative vision of social change and cultural affirmation in the African tradition of the griot or storyteller-keeper of social memory. As a cross-over artist, Allen works within a complex intersection of African, Jamaican, and Western traditions, history, rhythms, languages, and popular culture practices.
 
Thank you for the Lillian Allen concert. It was fantastic, an experience like none before for me. Sam Harris and the World Culture Band was excellent, all the poets from Belmopan were fantastic, Jael August did a great job singing, and Lillian Allen a true treasure and master of 'word sound power'. It was amazing how she created a musical space, a sound space, a lyrical space. Again Thank you Winsom Foundation for an excellent show. I look forward to more.

Katie Nomi Usher, Belize


This fusion of text and music that is central to Lillian Allen's works is important because it fills in all missing gaps in the Dub Poetry genre of our age. My interest in music is centered in jazz, classical music and the opera and very little knowledge of the music from Jamaica that combined brilliantly the text over-riding the reggae
rhythms that Lillian Allen handles so beautifully. 

The English verses that I studied whether from William Wordsworth or Keats stand apart as a separate statement coming from the English mind and then sent off to the colonies. Lillian made her separate statement and then I came to understand Dub Poetry because of her exceptional skill in  creating and using the art form.

Thank you Lillian Allen.

 Phyllis Broom Walker

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Griots ans Scribes honouring Lillian Allen

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