Lillian Allen

Lillian Allen is a writer who moves easily from one artistic discipline to another, emerging with new work transformed and transforming. Allen moved from Spanish Town, Jamaica, to North America in 1969. She studied at the City University of New York, and has a B.A. from York University in Toronto. She is a leading exponent of dub poetry, a highly politicized form of poetry that has been set to music, including jazz, reggae, rock, and more. She has spent over a decade writing, publishing, and performing her work in Canada, the U.S. and England.

Lillian is known internationally as a pioneer of dub-poetry, and as a ground breaker for women in the field. Her first album of poetry with music, Revolutionary Tea Party (1986), was proclaimed a Landmark Album of The Past 20 Years by Ms. Magazine in 1991. She won a Juno award for that album and a second in 1988 for Conditions Critical. (We Shall Take Our) Freedom & Dance, her third album, was released in 1999 by Vancouver's Festival Records. Lillian has published 2 books of poetry, Rhythm An' Hardtimes(1983), and more recently, Women Do This Everyday (Women's Press, 1994). Her work for young people includes three books: Why Me, Nothing But A Hero (for which she also released a recording) and If You See Truth.

As a playwright she has produced One Bedroom With Dignity (1987), Love & Other Strange Things (1991 and 1993), and the radio play Marketplace(1995). Her creativity also extends to film, as co-producer and co-director of Blak Wi Blakk..., a documentary on Jamaican dub poet Mutabaruka. Beyond writing, Lillian is a recognized authority and activist on issues of diversity in culture, cross cultural learning, and the arts in education. She has been consulted by and prepared major reports on these issues for Canadian organizations ranging from the Ministry of Citizenship & Culture, to the National Film Board. Her lectures and performance have taken her as far as Jamaica and Switzerland. Allen has also been Writer in Residence at Canada's University of Windsor.

Artist Code: 910


Revolution from the Beat

1998, 03:51 minutes, colour, English

Riddim & Hardtimes

1998, 10:22 minutes, colour, English

Blakk wi Blak...k...k

1993, 59:03 minutes, colour, Patois with English subtitles

Unnatural Causes (New Music Video 1991)

1991, 28:00 minutes, colour, English

Critical Writing

Who can we trust? Whose words will rescue us?
by Lillian Allen. C Magazine, 2018, v. 139.
Sexual Assault
by Leah Sandals. Canadian Art, Sept 13, 2016. Canadian Art, 2016.
Sexual Assault
by Michelle Da Silva. Now Toronto, Sept 14, 2016. Toronto: Now Toronto, 2016.
Then + Then Again: Talking with Clive Robertson about artist-run...
by Vera Frenkel. Fuse, July 2007, v. 30, no. 3.
Read Handed: Caught in the Act: an Anthology of Performance Art by...
by Leah Sandals. Fuse, May 2006, v. 29, no. 2.
Art and Community: A Toronto forum discusses action against censorship
by Connie Eckhert et al. Art and Community, 1987. Toronto: A Space (Artists Space), 1987.
6 of 1001 Nights of Performance. My giant A Space activity book!:...
by Joanna Householder et al. 6 of 1001 Nights of Performance. My giant A Space activity book!, 1986. Toronto: A Space (Artists Space), 1986.
Artists learn to work with community: A Toronto forum discusses...
by Cathy Malayas. The Toronto Clarion, Dec. 1983, v. 3, no. 19.