Lillian Allen is a Creative Writing Professor at the Ontario College of Art & Design University in Toronto Canada. Allen emerged from the grassroots in the seventies to become a leading influential figure on the Canadian cultural landscape.
She is an award winning and internationally renowned poet. As one of its lead originator and innovators, she has specialized in the writing and performing of dub poetry, a new genre of English Literature which is a highly politicized form of poetry preferring a black aesthetic and specific cultural codification. Dub poetry is a poetic form, which stylizes vernacular language, the emotive quality and inherent musicality of words and is sometimes set to music. It is considered a literary godmother of rap, hip-hop and spoken word poetry.
Allen is responsible for opening up the form to insist and engrave feminist content and sensibilities. Professor Allen has published several books and recordings, and has worked in poetry, fiction, non-fiction, writing for children, experimental writing forms, and has written several plays. Her work also appears in a variety of media. She has spent almost four decades writing, publishing, and performing her work in Canada, The US, Europe, and England and elsewhere.
A selection of her published works in book and CD forms include; Psychic Unrest, 2000, Women Do This Every Day, 1993; Nothing But A Hero, 1992; Why Me, 1991; If You See Truth, 1987. Her recordings (CDs) include; ANXIETY 2012, Freedom & Dance, 1999; Conditions Critical, 1988; Revolutionary Tea Party, 1986;
“Revolutionary Tea Party” and “Conditions Critical” both won Canadian Juno awards in 1986 and 1988 respectively.
An inspired strategic thinker and cultural strategist, Lillian is a leading expert on cultural diversity and culture in Canada and has been a consultant and advisor to all levels of government, to several leading Canadian institutions, and to community groups. She has initiated, designed and facilitated the establishment of a number of organizations in various culturally diverse communities, and has worked within several established organizations to implement strategies to create access and change. Lillian also initiated such programs as the legendary Fresh Arts and the International Spoken Word Program at Banff Center for the Arts. Multi-talented and multi-dimensional, she instigated, co-produced and hosted CBC’s (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s) Wordbeat, a national weekly radio show on poetry and the spoken word.
Ms. Allen is a recipient of many awards and citations which include The Margo Bindhardt Award for significantly impacting the arts in Toronto through leadership and vision in both creative work and activism, and the City of Toronto Cultural Champion Award, and the William P. Hubbard Race Relations award.
Lillian Allen –a grassroots artist, cultural activist and university professor is considered a godmother of rap, hip-hop, dub and spoken word. Her work is used across the educational spectrum, encompassing alternate learning contexts from kindergarten to post graduate studies.
Lillian's highly crafted and empowering poetics forges a contemporary sensibility and springs from a deep well of understanding and rooted knowledge about the cares, struggles, hopes, dreams and the possible futures of women, men and young people - of the textured multiverses we inhabit. Themes of transformation and incisive perspective lace the body of her work.