Lillian Allen (born 1951)

On her website, Lillian Allen describes herself as a “grassroots artist, cultural activist and university professor – …a godmother of rap/hip hop, dub and spoken word.” Born in Jamaica, Allen came to Canada in 1969 to attend Waterloo University. She went on to study at City University of New York and New York University. In 1978, Allen graduated from York University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and creative writing. Allen is a renowned leader in “dub poetry,” which draws on colloquial speech and politics, sometimes with musical accompaniment. As a feminist, activist, poet and teacher, Allen works in a variety of genres and media. Her writing has been published extensively and her music has enjoyed considerable success. Her LPs Revolutionary Tea Party (1986) and Conditions Critical (1988) each received a Juno Award for best reggae/calypso album. In 2021, CBC named Allen’s book “Make the World New” among the best poetry books for that year. Allen’s honors and awards include a City of Toronto Cultural Champion Award and a William P. Hubbard Award for Race Relations. Allen has been a consultant on diversity and culture for government and community groups, including as a member of the Canada Council for the Arts Racial Equity Advisory. Currently, Lillian Allen is a professor in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Graduate
Studies, at the Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto.

(Sources: CBC, Lillian Allen website, Poetry Foundation)