Lillian Allen

Lillian Allen. Photo by Black Coffee Poet. Courtesy Canadian Encyclopedia.

Lillian Allen (born April 5, 1951) is a Juno Award-winning Canadian dub poet, vocalist, lyricist, and teacher.[1]


Youth and educationEdit

Allen was born in Kingston, Jamaica, the 5th of 10 children, and grew up in Spanish Town, Jamaica.[1]

In 1969 she moved to New York City, and studied English at the City University of New York.[2] There she worked on the Caribbean Daily, which published her poem, "I Fight Back."[1]

In 1974 she moved to Canada, living for a time in Kitchener, Ontario before settling in Toronto, where she continued her education at York University, earning a B.A. in creative writing in 1978.[1]


After meeting Oku Onuora in Cuba in 1978, she began working in dub poetry.[2] She published her first chapbook, Rhythm an' Hardtimes, in 1982, and released her debut recording, Dub Poet: The poetry of Lillian Allen, in 1983.

Since 1992, she has been a professor with the faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the Ontario College of Art and Design University, where she teaches creative writing.[1] She recently held the distinction of being the first Canada Council writer in residence for Queen's University's Department of English.

Allen co-produced and co-directed Blak Wi Blakk, a documentary about Jamaican dub poet Mutabaruka.[3]


Allen won the Juno Award for Best Reggae/Calypso Album for Revolutionary Tea Party in 1986 and Conditions Critical in 1988.[3] Both albums were produced by Billy Bryans, the percussionist for Canadian dance-pop band Parachute Club.

In 1989, Allen’s poem “Unnatural Causes” was the subject of a National Film Board film.[1]

In 2006 Allen was the subject of an episode of the television series Heart of a Poet, produced by Canadian filmmaker Maureen Judge.[1]



  • Rhythm an' Hardtimes. Toronto: Domestic Bliss, 1982.
  • The Teeth of the Whirlwind (The Teeth of the Whirlwind (with Dionne Brand, Clifton Joseph, & Charles C. Smith). 1984.[1]


  • Why Me. Toronto: Well Versed, 1991.
  • Women Do This Every Day: Selected poems. Toronto: Women's Press, 1993; Toronto: Canadian Scholars' Press / Women's Press, 2003.
  • Psychic Unrest: Poetry. Toronto: Insomniac Press, 1999, 2009.


  • Frost: Photographs. Winnipeg: Hyperion Press, 1990.


  • If You See Truth: Poems for children and young people. Toronto: Verse to Vinyl, 1987.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[4]

Audio / videoEdit

Lillian Allen - Revolutionary Tea Party (1986)

Lillian Allen - Revolutionary Tea Party (1986)

Lillian Allen What is Dub Poetry?

Lillian Allen What is Dub Poetry?


  • Dub Poet: The poetry of Lillian Allen. 1983.[1]
  • De Dub Poets (contributor). Toronto: Verse to Vinyl, 1985.
  • Curfew Inna B.C.. 1985.
  • Revolutionary Tea Party. Toronto: Verse to Vinyl, 1985, 1998.
  • Let the Heart See. 1987.[1]
  • Conditions Critical. Toronto: Verse to Vinyl, 1998.
  • Nothing But a Hero. 1992.[1]
  • Freedom & Dance. 1999.[1]

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat..[4]

See alsoEdit


Notes Edit

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Lillian Allen, Canadian Encyclopedia, Historica Canada. Web, Jan. 20, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Dawes, Kwame (2000) Talk Yuh Talk: Interviews with Anglophone Caribbean Poets, University of Virginia Press, 148-160. Print.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Henry, Krista (2007) "Lillian Allen fights back with words", Jamaica Gleaner, 3 June 2007. Web, Oct. 31, 2010.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Search results = au:Lillian Allen, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Mar. 26, 2017.

External linksEdit

Audio / video
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