Lillian Allen mid-speech with sunglasses resting on her head.

Juno-Award-Winning dub poet Lillian Allen will be delivering this year’s Gustafson lecture as well as a poetry reading and Q&A. Image via Lillian Allen’s website.

As part of VIU’s Global Citizens Week, Juno-award-winning poet Lillian Allen will be delivering this year’s Gustafson lecture, as well as hosting a student-oriented poetry reading.

Coined the “godmother of dub,” Allen is VIU’s Gustafson Distinguished Poet for 2020-21. The reading will take place on Wednesday, February 10 at 10 am, followed by a Q&A. Allen will then deliver VIU’s annual Gustafson Lecture on Thursday, February 11 at 5 pm. Both events will be held on Zoom.

Allen is a Canadian dub poet, educator, and spoken word artist who grew up in Jamaica. She moved away from the Caribbean with her family as a teenager and studied in New York and Toronto. She is the founder of the Toronto International Dub Poetry Festival and is an internationally recognized authority and activist on issues of diversity in culture and cultural equity.

Dub poetry evolved out of the 1960’s Jamaican reggae scene that had been garnering international attention since the time of musical icon Bob Marley. Throughout its evolution, dub poetry has been able to reach audiences all around the world with its political and cultural revolutionary spirit, as much of its focus is articulating the joy and protest of Black people. 

Allen is a key component of the highly politicized form of dub poetry. She brings “world music influences and experimental sensibilities to the literary dub art form.”

Two of Allen’s albums of poetry Revolutionary Tea Party (1986), and Conditions Critical (1989), both won Juno Awards. She has also published books of poetry, including Rhythm An’ Hardtimes, a Canadian bestseller. 

Allen’s time-zone specific events are as follows:

  • Reading and Q&A: Wednesday, February 10, 2021, 10 am PST/ 1 pm EST
  • Gustafson Lecture: Thursday, February 11, 2021, 5 pm PST/ 8 pm EST”

You can register for both events via this Zoom Webinar link.

Find more information about Allen on her website and by listening to her albums on Spotify.

VIU’s Global Citizens Week is scheduled to take place February 8–12, 2021. This year it is exploring the theme, “Equity in Action,” which aims to challenge inequity.


Kaleigh Studer is a third-year Creative Writing Major and the new Arts Editor of the Navigator. She grew up in Nanaimo and loves all the opportunities the west coast has to offer. Mountain biking, swimming, traveling and brewery hopping are some of her favourite activities with friends. After living in Berlin for two years her passion and a keen eye for art and culture grew. She is excited to be searching out local stories and events taking place in Nanaimo.

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