Catherine Black

Catherine Black is Associate Professor of writing in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences at OCAD University where she is the Chair of the Creative Writing BFA program. She was instrumental in the development of both the Creative Writing minor at OCADU and the BFA Creative Writing: a multi-faceted, transdisciplinary, studio-based program.

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

Poetry reading by Joe Rosenblatt & Allan Safarik

Poetry Reading Poster
Tuesday, October 14, 2008 - 9:30pm to 11:30pm

The Faculty of Liberal Studies presents a poetry reading by acclaimed poets Joe Rosenblatt and Allan Safarik. Joe and Allan will be reading from their latest work. All are invited to attend this event. There will be an open mic after the readings.

Organized by Liberal Studies Faculty member Catherine Black.

Venue & Address: 
Rm 187 100 McCaul St., Toronto, Ontario

Faculty of Liberal Studies Poetry Reading

Poetry Reading
Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - 11:00pm to Thursday, January 17, 2008 - 1:00am

You are invited to attend a poetry reading by Professors Catherine Black (from her book Lessons of Chaos and Disaster) and Irene Marques (from her book Wearing Glasses of Water).

Venue & Address: 
Rm 327 100 McCaul St., Toronto, Ontario

Book Launch: Lessons of Chaos and Disaster

Thursday, December 6, 2007 - 12:00am to 2:00am

Bar Italia hosts a book launch for Faculty of Liberal Studies Professor Catherine Black's new book Lessons of Chaos and Disaster, a book of prose poetry.

Venue & Address: 
Bar Italia 582 College Street, Toronto, Ontario

26, Nicole Collins and Michael Davidson, present Melanie Janisse-­Barlow: The Poets Series

Photograph of the artist with multiple portraits hanging on the wall in the background
Saturday, September 10, 2016 - 6:00pm to Saturday, September 24, 2016 - 10:00pm

September 3, 10, 17, 24, 2016

Melanie Janisse-­Barlow:  The Poets Series

“The idea behind the Poets Series is to paint portraits of living poets and let each poet pick the next as a practice of practo-­poesis…I asked the poets who were picked if I could paint a portrait of them, and if they wouldn't mind selecting the next poet to add to the series...the beginning poets included other poets, and the archive began to grow, branch by branch into an emerging narrative of contemporary poetry.”


Join us, Saturdays in September to see the paintings completed to date, and to share some tea and poetry and casual conversation.

Saturday September 24, from 2 to 6pm, the Poets Read

Melanie and several local Poets featured in the exhibition will be on hand to give impromptu, unscheduled live readings from their works throughout the afternoon.

About the Artist:  Melanie Janisse-­Barlow is a poet and artist. Her first collection of poetry, Orioles in the Oranges (Guernica, 2009), was listed for the Relit Award, and her essay poems, Detroit, were listed in Best American Essays in 2013. Between a busy private commission schedule and the execution of larger projects such as the Ship of Fools Project (a painting installation on a sailboat), Guided (an installation in an abandoned apartment) and the Poets Series, Janisse works full time as a painter and installation artist in her hometown of Windsor, Ontario, and is completing her second poetry manuscript, Thicket. 26 Canadian Poets, which stems from her Poets Series project, is forthcoming from BookThug.

26 is a domestic viewing space for contemporary art in the Beaconsfield neighborhood of Toronto, Canada. A curatorial collaboration between artists Nicole Collins and Michael Davidson, 26 features an open program of diverse local and international artists and seeks to engage the viewer in a critical and relaxed experience with art.

Saturdays, 2-­6 or by appointment


Venue & Address: 
26 Mackenzie Crescent, Toronto, ON, M6J 1T1
416 346 3246

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.

World Poetry Day featuring Lillian Allen and special guests

Image of Lillian Allen, Chimwemwe Undi and Joshua Whitehead
Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 11:00pm

An evening with internationally-acclaimed dub poet, Lillian Allen with live musical accompaniment from musicians Ashley AuBrady Allard, and Brendan Kinley. Allen will be joined by special guest spoken word artists Chimwemwe Undi and Joshua Whitehead. This event hosted by Charlene Diehl and co-presented by CV2 Magazineand Prairie Fire Magazine in celebration of World Poetry Day.

Lillian Allen is a Creative Writing Professor at the Ontario College of Art & Design University in Toronto. She is an award winning and internationally renowned poet. Professor Allen has pioneered and specialized in dub poetry, a new genre of English Literature which is a highly politicized form of poetry preferring a black aesthetic and specific cultural codification. Allen is responsible for opening up the form to insist and engrave feminist content and sensibilities. Professor Allen’s work in poetry, theatre, fiction, non-fiction, writing for children, and experimental writing forms has been extensively published, performed, and recorded.

Chimwemwe Undi is a poet and an arts organizer. Her work is informed largely by the immigrant experience, a religious upbringing, and various people, places, and things. She was an all-star ensemble member at the 2015 Victoria Spoken Word Festival, and a featured artist at the 2014 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. She runs the Speaking Crow and Voices, Ink., the Winnipeg Youth Slam. Undi lives in Winnipeg.

Joshua Whitehead is pursuing an M.A. in Cultural Studies at the University of Winnipeg while focusing on the politics of critical race scholarship. He is the co-editor of CV2’s “Poetry Lives Here: Young Poet Supplement” and the recent co-editor of UWinnipeg’s juice journal. His work has been featured in Prairie Firejuice, Manitoba First Nation Educational Resource Centre, the Canadian Aboriginal Writers and Arts Challenge, and the upcoming issue of rip/torn collective.

Venue & Address: 
McNally Robinson Winnipeg Grant Park Mall Atrium 1120 Grant Avenue. Winnipeg, MB. R3M 2A6.

OCAD University to confer honorary degrees on Douglas Coupland and Duke Redbird

Thursday, May 30, 2013 - 4:00am

(Toronto—May 30, 2013) OCAD University (OCAD U) will present honorary doctorate degrees to artist and author Douglas Coupland and First Nations poet and educator Duke Redbird at the university’s convocation ceremony at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto on Thursday, June 6.

“Our honorary doctorate recipients are reflective of the qualities we want to impart to this year’s graduating class as they seek to make their own impressions in the world,” said Dr. Sara Diamond, OCAD University President and Vice-Chancellor. “Douglas Coupland’s unparalleled creative musings on contemporary society are demonstrative of the creative practice we hope to inspire in our students. As our first Advisor/Mentor in our Indigenous Visual Culture Program, Duke Redbird has helped guide Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, faculty and staff in Indigenous knowledge and artistic practice. We congratulate our 680 graduates, alongside Douglas and Duke, for everything they bring to the world!”

With the publication of his remarkable and prescient 1991 novel Generation X, artist Douglas Coupland became hailed as the voice of his age. Since that important moment in literary and cultural history, the artist and critic has turned his sharp and insightful attention to design, social commentary, journalism, art theory and criticism as well having managed a broad, active and acclaimed studio practice. Indeed, Coupland’s intellectual engagement effortlessly crosses disciplines and categories of cultural production. The author of 14 works of fiction and four works of non-fiction, a designer of clothing and furniture, an artist of immense range and an internationally known cultural figure respected for his powers of observation and analysis, Coupland’s longstanding, indefatigable interest in the minutiae of everyday life is simultaneously a centrally rich critical vein in his work and an extension of his own way of being in the world. Fascinated by the conditions of global capitalism and social life, Coupland is, in so many ways, a type of preternatural archaeologist and sociologist of the present: a pithy, wry, and at times, unnerving commentator on the complexities and implications of recent and contemporary life in the western and westernized world.

Trained at Emily Carr University of Art & Design in Vancouver, Coupland was from the start of his career intrigued by the character and condition of modern life. After invaluable and creative stints in Japan and Toronto, he set out to document the temperament of his generational cohort: the inheritors of post-WWII North American technological primacy and material abundance. His early writings with their recognizable characters and at times painfully familiar circumstances, contributed to Coupland’s reputation as an astute and unstinting narrator of contemporary life. Fascinated by technology and social conventions, by popular culture and critical theory, experimental in his thinking and artistic practice and motivated in all ways by his brilliant and timely curiosity, Douglas Coupland is one of the most important thinkers and artists working today. Recent works include Player One: What Is to Become of Us (the novelized 2010 Massey Lectures that the author delivered in five cross-country readings); the now iconic Digital Orca sculpture in Vancouver (2010); an acclaimed series of QR Code paintings, (2011-2012), one of which was recently acquired by the Albright-Knox Museum in Buffalo, New York; the Canadian Fallen Firefighter Memorial Sculpture and Park in Ottawa (2012), The Museum of the Rapture at Scotia Bank’s Nuit Blanche in Toronto (2012), a line of furniture for SwitzerCultCreative and a series of public appearances across the globe in which Coupland has spoken about his experiences as an artist and the deep value of art education and art for social well-being. Coupland’s first museum solo show, Anything is Everything is Everywhere is Anything, starts at the Vancouver Art Gallery in June 2014 and then tours internationally.

Duke Redbird served as the first mentor advisor in the Indigenous Visual Culture Program at OCAD University from January 2009 until May 2012. An established Indigenous intellectual, poet, painter, broadcaster, filmmaker and orator, Redbird brought his breadth of culture knowledge, political activism and artistic practice to the benefit of students and faculty alike, as OCAD University took its first steps in the development of a unique program in Indigenous Visual culture, art media and design. As the program’s first mentor/advisor, Redbird was instrumental in the implementation of innovative student services and outreach within OCAD U and beyond, bringing an Indigenous approach to art education that was rooted in his pioneering work with Tom Peltier at the Manitou Arts Foundation in Northern Ontario in 1973.

He began his career as an actor and poet at the height of the civil rights movement in the 1960s and quickly became socially active on behalf of Aboriginal and Métis human rights. He served as Vice-President of the Native Council of Canada from 1974 to 1976, and President of the Ontario Métis and Non-status Indian Association from 1980 to 1983. In addition to his public service, Redbird works as a multifaceted artist, practising across a number of disciplines including literature, painting, theatre, cinema and most recently rap poetry. A well-known broadcaster and television personality, he is in demand as a public speaker in university, community college and elementary school settings.

Redbird received his Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies from York University in 1978, and he is a PhD candidate in Sociology at York University. His Master’s thesis “We are Métis” was published in 1978 and continues to be a seminal text on the history and political aspirations of the Métis to this day. As a poet, essayist and screenwriter, Redbird has published and performed poetry readings, theatrical productions, video and film, both locally and internationally. His poem I am a Canadian was the inspiration for a multimedia musical production of his poetic work at a performance before Queen Elizabeth II. In 1985, Redbird represented Canada at the Valmiki World Poetry Festival in India, reading the opening address. He has written and directed many dramatic films and documentaries. In 1993, Redbird was presented the Silver Hugo Award at the Chicago Film Festival for a drama he produced for TVOntario. For 15 years, from 1994 to 2009, he was the familiar face of Aboriginal Toronto as the Arts & Entertainment reporter for CityTV. In the summer of 2012, Redbird moved to his property on Bark Lake, near Madawaska, Ontario, to begin work on the development of a “food forest” and a Centre for Compassionate Living. His interests in sustainable, just and conscientious human evolution continue to inspire and guide students and faculty at OCAD University and beyond.

Coupland and Redbird will each address the graduating class of 2013 at OCAD University’s Spring Convocation ceremony, taking place on Thursday, June 6 at 1:30 p.m. at Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe Street, Toronto. This is an invitation-only, ticketed event. Media are welcome.

Since 2003, OCAD University has conferred honorary doctorates to such luminaries as Catherine (Kiki) Delaney, Peter Caldwell, Piers Handling, Nobuo Kubota, Carole Condé and Karl Beveridge, Anita Kunz, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Margaret Atwood, Charles Pachter, Dan Donovan, Bill Buxton, the Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson, Karim Rashid, Will Alsop, Daphne Odjig and Claude Gidman. Prior to 2003, OCAD U named honorary fellows, including A. J. Casson, Don Watt, Betty Goodwin, Atom Egoyan and Bruce Mau.

OCAD University (OCAD U):
OCAD University ( is Canada’s “university of imagination.” The university, founded in 1876, is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. OCAD University is building on its traditional, studio-based strengths, adding new approaches to learning that champion cross-disciplinary practice, collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies. In the Age of Imagination, OCAD University community members will be uniquely qualified to act as catalysts for the next advances in culture, technology and quality of life for all Canadians.

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Media who wish to attend, please contact:

Sarah Mulholland, Media & Communications Officer
416 977 6000 x327
mobile: x1327