Lillian Allen’s Legacy honored with prestigious poetry prizes

By Lincoln DePradine

The legacy of world-renowned spoken word recording artist and author, Lillian Allen, is being further cemented in Canada, particularly Toronto, where she has been the city’s Poet Laureate.

Lillian Allen

The Ontario Arts Council (OAC), in an attempt to “recognize and celebrate spoken word poetry’’, has announced the establishment of the “Lillian Allen Prize’’ and “Lillian Allen Emerging Artist Prize’’.

Jamaica-born Allen, who celebrated her 73rd birthday on April 5, is a York University graduate and a dub poet, reggae musician, writer, lecturer, mentor and Canadian Juno Award winner.

She also holds an Honourary Doctor of Letters from Wilfrid Laurier University for her significant contribution and impact on Canadian literature.

Allen’s written work has been published in books such as “Make the World New’’; Psychic Unrest’’; “Women Do this Every Day’’; “Rhythm an’ Hardtimes’’, and “Teeth of the Whirlwind’’.

The OAC prizes, set up in partnership with the League of Canadian Poets (LCP), is named after Allen as a tribute to “her community building and generosity of spirit’’, as well as her “distinctive approach to poetry through language, music and social consciousness’’, say officials at the Ontario Arts Council.

Allen, they say, “continues to capture attention’’ and “embodies the excellence, creativity, and professionalism’’.

Both the “Lillian Allen Prize’’ and “Lillian Allen Emerging Artist Prize’’ will be awarded annually. Each is valued at $2,000.

Candidates’ applications will be assessed, and the final selection of the winner decided by, the League of Canadian Poets.

According to the criteria for applying, candidates must be “professional artists’’ of spoken word poetry, and Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

Poets interested in applying for the prizes can obtain further details at the LCP website at

They can also learn more at