Lillian Allen is one of the leading creative Black feminist voices in Canada. Her work has been foundational to the dub poetry movement, which swept across the Black diaspora in the 1980s, taking roots/routes in Kingston, Toronto, and London and offering exciting sounds of protest and a careful, detailed documenting of everyday life as political praxis.
Make the World New brings together some of the highlights of Lillian Allen's work in a single volume. It revisits her well-known verse from the celebrated collections Rhythm an’ Hardtimes, Women Do This Everyday, and Psychic Unrest, while also assembling new and uncollected poems. Allen's poetry is incisive in its narration of Black life and its call to create new and different futures. Her work highlights the need for radical intersectional change as a process of social transformation.
Allen’s afterword, “Tuning the Heart with Poetry,” includes the writer's reflections on her process and the social and cultural impact of the work. The introduction, by Ronald Cummings, engages with the duality of Lillian Allen's poetry in its written and spoken forms, and the give and take in committing poems to the page that “are not meant to lay still.” He also reflects on the dynamism of Allen's dub poetry, where, for example, her portrayal of breaths and breathings take on new resonance in the era of Black Lives Matter and COVID-19.
About the authors
Lillian Allen moved from Spanish Town, Jamaica, to North America in 1969. After studying at the City University of New York and York University in Toronto, she emerged as the birth mother of dub in Canada, performing alone and with de dub poets at countless events across the full spectrum of progressive organizing. She has three albums for adults and one for children, and two books for children and young people. She performs locally, nationally, and internationally. A cultural strategist and long-time key cultural worker/arts activist in Toronto, Allen is also a writer of plays and short fiction and has ventured into filmmaking.
Ronald Cummings is Associate Professor in the Department of English Language and Literatures at Brock University, Canada. His work focuses on Postcolonial Literature and Black diaspora studies. He is co-editor (with Alison Donnell) of Caribbean Literature in Transition, 1970-2020 (2021).