City of Toronto recommends Lillian Allen as Toronto’s new Poet Laureate

2023 April 25

Today, City of Toronto staff recommended Toronto poet Lillian Allen to become Toronto’s seventh Poet Laureate, pending approval by City Council at its May meeting. Allen was nominated by a selection committee in consultation with the literary community.

Allen is an acclaimed poet, writer/performer and long-time arts activist and was named a foremother of Canadian poetry by the League of Canadian Poets. Allen is a leader in dub poetry, a politically charged, reggae-infused poetry of resistance and visionary futures.

Two-time JUNO Award winner and trailblazer in spoken word and dub poetry, Allen artistically explores the aesthetics of old and new sounds with her influential reggae dub poetry/spoken word recordings. Allen has been a successful cultural strategist, helping transform Toronto and Canadian cultural landscapes. She is also a professor of creative writing at Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCADU).

Toronto’s first Poet Laureate was named in 2001. An advocate for poetry, language and the arts, the position honours a Toronto poet whose work displays excellence and has written on themes relevant to Torontonians. The Laureate is an ambassador for poetry and the arts and infuses poetry into a range of official and informal city activities to attract people to the literary world. The Poet Laureate’s mandate also includes creating a legacy project that will be unique to the individual. Allen’s legacy project will be announced at a later date.

Allen will hold the position for three years and receive an annual honorarium of $10,000 for serving as Toronto’s literary ambassador championing local literary arts and wordsmiths.

Toronto’s distinguished list of Poets Laureates (listed chronologically) since 2001 includes Dennis Lee, Pier Giorgio di Cicco, Dionne Brand, George Elliott Clarke, Anne Michaels and Al Moritz (A.F. Moritz).

More information about the Toronto Poet Laureate and its programs is available online.

More information about Lillian Allen and her works can be accessed through Lillian’s website .