Lillian Allen, David Griffin, and Linda Carreiro: Making in Canadian Space

poster with an abstract landscape background
Thursday, April 25, 2019 - 10:00am to Saturday, April 27, 2019 - 8:00pm

Lillian Allen, Professor in Liberal Arts & Sciences and School of Interdisciplinary Studies, David Griffin, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Art, and Linda Carreiro, Professor and Associate Dean in the Faculty of Art, are all presenting at Text/Sound/Performance: Making in Canadian Space from April 25-27 at University College Dublin. The three-day conference will feature papers, performances and workshops that expand, trouble, decentralize, destabilize, or interrogate literary practices, text, and performance. Canadian and Indigenous authors and scholars will dialogue with Irish authors and scholars about the legacies of experimentation and decolonization.

Venue & Address: 
University College Dublin


Saturday, April 6, 2019 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm


Saturday April 6, 2019, 2 pm

Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario

West Coast-based poets and friends, Cecily Nicholson and Juliane Okot Bitek will be joined by Toronto’s Lillian Allen (OCADU) in a conversation about cross-cultural memory and collective amnesia. The authors, whose work has contemplated these themes, will think through the poem as a document of memory: considering what poetry can add to existing narrow histories, and the role of memory in building resilient futures.

Juliane Okot Bitek ’s work has been published widely online, in print and in literary magazines. Her work has been recently anthologized in New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent; Transition: Writing Black Canadas; Great Black North; Contemporary African Canadian Poetry; and Revolving City: 51 Poems and the Stories Behind Them. Juliane’s 100 Days (University of Alberta 201) is a poetic response to the twentieth anniversary of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Inspired by the photographs of Wangechi Mutu, Juliane wrote a poem a day for a hundred days and posted them on her website and on social media. The book won the 2017 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award for Poetry and the 2017 Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry. Other recent poetry awards include the 2017 National Magazine Awards for which Migrations: Salt Stories was shortlisted and the 2018 CBC Poetry Prize for which Gauntlet was longlisted.

On Musqueam-, Squamish-, and Tsleil-Waututh- land, Cecily Nicholson has worked in the downtown eastside neighbourhood of Vancouver since 2000 — most recently as Administrator of the artist-run centre, Gallery Gachet. A part of the Joint Effort prison abolitionist group and a member of the Research Ethics Board for Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Cecily is the newly appointed Interpretive Programmer at the Surrey Art Gallery. She is the author of TriageFrom the Poplars, winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, and Wayside Sang, 2018 winner of the Governor General's award for poetry.

Lillian Allen is a Jamaican-Canadian professor of creative writing at OCAD University, Toronto. Multi-disciplinary and experimental, Allen’s creativity crosses many genres including radio, theatre, music and film. As a two-time JUNO Award winner (Revolutionary Tea Party, a Ms. Magazine Landmark Album Conditions Critical) and trailblazer in the field of spoken word and dub poetry, Allen artistically explores the aesthetics of old and new sounds in music to create her distinctive brand of Canadian reggae. Allen’s debut book of poetry, Rhythm An’ Hardtimes became a Canadian bestseller, and she has held the post of Writer-in-Residence at Canada’s Queen’s University and University of Windsor. Founder of the Toronto International Dub Poetry Festival and a variety of cultural organizations such as Fresh Arts that empower youth, Allen has spent over three decades writing, publishing, performing and doing workshop presentations of her work to audiences around the globe.

This event is organized in-part by the first-year Criticism and Curatorial masters students of OCAD U.

Jackman Hall is accessible.

Venue & Address: 
Jackman Hall Art Gallery of Ontario 317 Dundas St W, Toronto

New Creative Writing program featured in NOW magazine

Professor Lilian Allen on the cover of Now Magazine
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Professor Lillian Allen’s smile graces the cover of NOW magazine’s education issue, where she is interviewed about the university’s new BFA in Creative Writing.

What sets the program apart from other creative writing programs in Ontario is the studio-based approach to the study and practice of writing as artistic creation. Students study writing while exploring multiple art and design practices, perhaps incorporating words and poetry into sculpture, installations, performance or painting in new and unconventional ways.

“If there’s one form that can work with any art form you can imagine, it’s the language-based form. You hardly see any artwork these days without writing involved. It’s also the way we’re guiding the program,” says Allen, who is a well-known dub poet and writer, as well as an academic.   

The program emphasizes the practice, craft and production of spoken, written, visual and verbal texts as well as experimental language forms that break from traditional ways of approaching the written word.

Did you know?

In this section, we introduce you to the exciting people, programs and centres at OCAD U!

This month: Spotlight on Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (launching in September 2019)

Interview with: Lillian Allen, Professor, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

Lillian Allen & Joanna Black: Learning for Social Change

photo of performers on stage from behind
Monday, February 5, 2018 - 5:00pm

Lillian Allen & Joanna Black: Learning for Social Change

Opening Feb. 5, 5.30 - 7 pm. Conversation 6 pm
CWSE Hallway Gallery
OISE/UT, 252 Bloor Street West (just east of St. George & Bloor), 2nd Floor, Toronto
FREE and accessible.

Curator: Pam Patterson

Associate Curator & Installation: Leena Raudvee

Designer: Julia Pereira

While socially engaged art, as a category of practice, is still a working construct, the artist who identifies as such is an individual whose specialty includes working professionally with/in society. Writes Pablo Helguera (2011) in Education for Socially Engaged Art, “Standard education practices – such as engagement with audiences, inquiry-based methods, collaborative dialogues, and hands-on activities – provide an ideal framework for process-based and collaborative conceptual [creative] practices (p. xi).” “Students” facilitated by socially engaged artists/educators become aware of why they are acting and learn how to act in an effective way.

Toronto, dub poet, activist and writer Lillian Allen and Manitoba artist, researcher and educator Joanna Black, as socially engaged cultural workers, facilitate artists'/educators' creative work that deals with diverse issues. Both women are professors at universities and value partnerships, process, and collaboration toward action-in-community. Their students’ creative activity has been animated, shared and presented locally and internationally.

Each woman mentors young adult students: Lillian Allen works with artists, designers and writers in liberal studies at OCAD University and Joanna Black facilitates emergent teachers in visual art teacher education at University of Manitoba. Their teaching encourages students to focus not only internally in critical and creative making, but also outward among each other and in company with community. A complex dialogue ensues where social critique, understanding, and engagement are valued. 

Black’s digiART project provides a venue where emergent teachers, mostly young adults, can examine human rights issues through the creation of new media texts ranging from photographs, videos, and animations to graphic novels and performance art; while Allen’s students develop and facilitate interactive creative writing and art workshops to connect youth to their creative power in context of developing a collective voice. Allen's projects are in collaboration with the Winsom Foundation in Belize and the Hamilton Youth Poets. 

These education–as–art projects aim to democratize viewers, making them partners, participants, or collaborators in the construction of the works. “This is a powerful and positive re-envisioning of education that can only happen in art, as it depends on art’s unique patterns of performativity, experience, and exploration of ambiguity (Helguera, 2011, p. 81).” It is a productive and transformative activity.

Venue & Address: 
CWSE Hallway Gallery OISE/UT, 252 Bloor Street West (just east of St. George & Bloor), 2nd Floor, Toronto
FREE and accessible
digital artwork

Speaking volumes: Lillian Allen guest-curates AGO series

Internationally acclaimed writer, dub poet and a professor in OCAD U’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Lillian Allen, has guest-curated a four-week series of poetry, music and spoken word at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO).  As part of Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries, 1971-1989, the landmark ‘celebration of the voice’ exhibition showcases an array of established and budding local artists, featuring some of Toronto’s most dynamic spoken word talent.

The AGO Friday Nights in October series offers an opportunity to experience artists who worked during the period the exhibition covers. The final Friday in the series features a performance by Allen, herself, on October 28 (Lillian Allen & the Revolutionary Tea Party with Janet Rogers and Amani). Allen and her band will be re-creating the activism and cultural revolution of her groundbreaking, Juno award-winning album, Revolutionary Tea Party, along with some new content.

Allen describes the 1971-1989 timeframe as a period of “a lot of creativity, a lot of inter-connection from cultural collaboration — a time when people, obviously, were not comfortable with old traditions and some of the dialogue and debates around race and equality.” As she describes it, “the world was opening up; music around the world, and cultures, were coming together to embrace a larger family.”

Allen has been teaching creative writing at OCAD University since 1992.  Inspired by “anything that is energetic, progressive, beautiful and forward-looking,” she credits her OCAD U students for inspiring her with “that kind of creativity, cutting-edge positioning.”

As a writer, vocalist and social activist, she has recorded several albums, including Revolutionary Tea Party (1986) and Conditions Critical (1988), for which she received Juno Awards for best reggae/calypso album.  As one of the originators of dub poetry, she is the founder of the DubPoets Collective in Toronto and has led such programs as Fresh Arts, Native Women in the Arts and Black Arts Service Organizations.

In addition to the performances, visitors can hear Allen’s Revolutionary Tea Party album on the AGO’s fourth floor. 

The exhibition is included in general admission.


Natalie Pavlenko

Regent Park Film Festival

Wednesday, November 5, 2008 - 5:00am to Saturday, November 8, 2008 - 5:00am

The Regent Park Film Festival is gearing up for another exciting year of diverse films, created by young directors, editors, and producers from the community. The program also promises to deliver international films produced as far away as Afghanistan and Australia.

"This year's festival is particularly exciting for us, because local and international emerging and established directors will be in attendance, from the Yukon, Bella Coola, Nairobi, Burundi, Kabul and NYC," says Festival Director Karin Hazé.

The festival has several new highlights including:

Communities Stories Opening Night Program (November 5, 6 p.m.)
Films related to their communities, international and local, are showcased on this night. Featured guests: Adonis Huggins from Regent Park TV, Biki Kangwana from Slum-TV (Kenya), Christopher Redmond from the Burundi Film Centre, Jack Johnson & Samantha Edgar from Our World.

Featured Guests (November 6, 7:30 p.m.)
Street nurse, Caroline Brunt, will present Bevel Up, a documentary directed by Canada's Nettie Wild and co-produced by the National Film Board of Canada and Regent Park Community Health Centre.

Panel Discussion (November 8, 1 p.m.)
A lively conversation exploring issues around relocation. Featuring community activist and writer, Helen Jefferson Lenskyj, NYC filmmaker Lauren Feeney (Garlic and Watermelons) and Regent Park community residents.

Performances: November 8, 10 p.m.
Juno award-winning dub poet and OCAD Professor Lillian Allen and producer, artist and activist Jarret Prescott will give a performance to remember at the Dominion on Queen restaurant (500 Dundas St. E.)

Also don't miss:

RPFF Professional 3D Live Animation Film Workshop for Everyone: November 1 and 2
This two-day film workshop will create a 30 minute animated film mixing
green screen techniques with performance to insert the participants
into archival photographs and 3D simulations of Regent Park.
Participants will examine historic neighbourhood photos, and then
develop short scripts in small groups with Cayle Chernin, acclaimed
Canadian producer, writer and actor. Participants will then perform
their scripts in a green screen session with filmmaker Jason J. Brown.

The final result will screen at the Regent Park Closing Ceremony: an
animated film using participants as actors in the historic and future
world of Regent Park! No previous experience necessary. Register by calling 416.981.6737 or Email your contact info to Workshop takes place at 600 Dundas St. E. rear basement at Focus: Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre.

All RPFF screenings are at Nelson Mandela Park Public School. Screenings and childcare are free.

Venue & Address: 
Nelson Mandela Park Public School 440 Shuter Street, Toronto, Ontario

Professor Lillian Allen to receive Honorary Doctorate from Wilfrid Laurier

Professor Lillian Allen
Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - 4:00am

Internationally-acclaimed writer, dub poet and community activist Lillian Allen will receive an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Wilfrid Laurier University at its convocation ceremonies in June.

Allen, a professor in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences, has been teaching creative writing at OCAD University since 1992. 

As a writer and vocalist, Allen has recorded several albums. Revolutionary Tea Party (1986) and Conditions Critical (1988) won JUNO awards in the reggae/calypso category.

She is the founder of the DubPoets Collective in Toronto and has led such programs as Fresh Arts, Native Women in the Arts and Black Arts Service Organizations.

Allen is the recipient of the Margo Bindhardt Award, the City of Toronto Cultural Champion Award and the William P. Hubbard Award for Race Relations.

A-L-L-I-T-E-R-A-T-I-V-E : Student Readings

Event Poster
Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - 5:15pm

Fiction Poetry Prose Spoken Word Poetics & Experimental
Join Lillian Allen, her Introduction to Creative Writing, and Hybrid and Experimental Writing Classes as they present their final pieces.
Join us for food and an evening of exploring all that we can do with language, the tongue and writing tools.

Venue & Address: 
The Lobby 100, McCaul Street, Toronto