Juno-winning Toronto dub poet Lillian Allen is VIU’s Gustafson Distinguished Poet for 2021. (Photo courtesy Karen Lee)

Juno-winning Toronto dub poet Lillian Allen is VIU’s Gustafson Distinguished Poet for 2021. (Photo courtesy Karen Lee)

Juno-winning dub poet is VIU’s Gustafson Distinguished Poet this year

Lillian Allen will present online lecture, reading and Q-and-A

Juno-winning Toronto dub poet Lillian Allen has been named Vancouver Island University’s Gustafson Distinguished Poet for 2021.

On Feb. 10 and 11 Allen will be giving a lecture, reading and Q-and-A as the VIU Ralph Gustafson Chair of Poetry. The program has welcomed poets to speak and share their work at the school since 1999 but this year, due to COVID-19, the event will be taking place online.

Allen is a central figure in Canadian dub poetry, a form of performance poetry that emerged out of Jamaican dub music in the 1970s. She is the author of six books and has recorded nine albums, including Revolutionary Tea Party and Conditions Critical, winners of the Juno Award for Best Reggae/Calypso Recording in 1986 and 1989, respectively. Allen currently teaches creative writing at the Ontario College of Art and Design.

She said she enjoys having conversations about her work and answering questions, particularly from young people. She said “that is how we generate community and actually advance our knowledge.”

“Rock stars play a stadium and they drop the gospel and then people go home and I’m like, ‘No, no, no. That should never be,’” Allen said. “You stay up there and let people ask you some questions. Let them challenge you. Let them ask you for clarification. So I love the idea of people wanting a dialogue.”

In her lecture Allen will be discussing her work in the larger context as writing as social practice. She describes herself as “somebody who works from a cultural position with a distinct social agenda and political agenda and spiritual agenda” and she’ll be encouraging students to find their own positions and what they stand by and to articulate those thoughts through their poetry.

“I want to inspire them,” Allen said. “And I want them to see that and to feel and to think and to know that they’re important and that their voices are important and that is key to our diversity and our society, our democracy.”

In her reading Allen will be presenting material from across her catalogue that covers “some ideas that are warm and nurturing and some ideas that are meant to wake people up.” Some of her newer work draws connections between living under a pandemic and the experiences of young black men and “not knowing if you go to the store if it’s a death sentence.”

“The work is meant to be provocative,” Allen said. “In that it raises questions and it challenges the reader through language and artistic means to consider certain things in society and their own responses and culpabilities.”

WHAT’S ON … Lillian Allen virtual reading and Q-and-A happens on Feb. 10 at 10 a.m. Gustafson Lecture is Feb. 11 at 5 p.m. Click here to register.

RELATED: VIU names poet Gregory Scofield its 2020 Ralph Gustafson Distinguished Poet

RELATED: Victoria poet Lorna Crozier holding a reading and lecture in Nanaimo


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Just Posted

These are just a handful of Vancouver Island’s missing person cases. Clockwise from top left: Lisa Marie Young, Lindsey Nicholls, Micheal Dunahee, Jesokah Adkens, Belinda Cameron and Emma Fillipoff. (File photos courtesy of family members and police departments)
Gorge skull fragment could bring closure to one Greater Victoria missing person case

Skeletal remains found in Greater Victoria have not yet been identified

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of a Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu on May 8. (Black Press Media file photo)
Indigenous woman shot by police was holding a replica gun, says Ucluelet First Nation

Woman has been identified as a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation

Victoria police worked to arrest as many people with active warrants as possible during #VicPDWarrantWednesday May 12. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria policemake over 20 arrests during #VicPDWarrantWednesday

Officers were working to locate people with active arrest warrants

Patrick OLeary won $1 million in the March 24 draw of the Lotto 6/49. (BCLC image)
Sooke man cashes $1-million lottery ticket

The excavator operator had to look twice to confirm the win

A partnership is looking to identify skeletal remains that were discovered by recreational divers in the Gorge Waterway this February. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Divers find partial human skull in Gorge Waterway

B.C. Coroner Service determines remains likely historical, not ancestral

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

A nurse asks screening questions at an immunization appointment in Nanaimo earlier this year. (Shawn Wagar/Island Health photo)
Island Health appreciates nurses answering the call in challenging times

Health authority draws attention to National Nursing Week

Two-year-old Kashius Weme rides at the Steve Smith Memorial Bike Park in Nanaimo on Tuesday, May 11. The youngster’s precocious bike-riding ability is already attracting cycle sponsors. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
2-year-old Nanaimo bike rider already attracting cycle sponsors

Kashius Weme has a knack for extreme cycle sports

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)
Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

Premier Mike Horgan received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Facebook/John Horgan)
More than 50% of people eligible in B.C. have received 1st vaccine dose

‘We’ve made extraordinary progress together over the past few weeks,’ says Premier Horgan

Most Read