Featured poet

Lillian Allen

A leading Canadian poet, Lillian Allen is a leading international exponent of dub poetry and a two-time Canadian Juno award winner. Lillian has been acclaimed a foremother of Canadian poetry by the League of Canadian Poets. She is also an arts activist and a cultural strategist who initiated and developed several key equity impacting arts programs. A mentor to the mentors and ”godmother of everything,” Lillian is also a recipient of many awards and citations, including the Toronto Cultural Champions Award, the Margo Bindhardt Award for significantly impacting the arts in Toronto through both creative work and activism, the William P. Hubbard Award for Race Relations, and an Honorary Doctorate from Wilfred Laurier University for her contribution and impact on Canadian Letters. She is a Professor of Creative Writing at OCAD University where she spearheaded the establishment of a Creative Writing BFA program. Lillian Allen's newest publication is Make the World New: The Poetry of Lillian Allen selected by Ronald Cummings, published by WLU Press September 2021 and available at local bookstores and online sellers. Other books include Women Do this Every Day, Psychic Unrest, plus several books and recordings for children and young people.

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Featured poem

Pandemic

The year 2020 time reversed

the world into a pause

search the lost and found

for meaning

misplaced things

Frantically we grope in quarantine

Within (our)selves

But not quarantined from our fears

and a conscience paper-thin

How can we fathom that stepping out your door

Or going to the supermarket

to get groceries

or to meet up with friends at dusk

could be a death sentence?

Ask any young Black man.

Ask any young Black man

In social isolation we rest

Become restless, the unknown looming

Weighty words;

lockdown, shelter-in-place

social-distance, self-isolation

quarantine

infection-count, intubate

Death-toll

Words screaming for submission

There is an enormity to the immensity

of this pandemic moment

A glum impenetrable disquietude

The Anthropocene like worms in cottonwood

We’ve been moving

through life like it’s our first feast

paid by an anonymous benefactor

with infinite generosity

Our eyes aglitter, everywhere

People say it’s a sign

greed of the world’s ruling classes has gone too far

we have given up too much of our personal values;

Flittering

Our Flitter an accomplice

to the pain of the othered

Now woke-ing from a universal drownin

busy and significance with our Things

We flitter; where to put our efforts

like where to put your eyes in feelings of shame

Then the George Floyd murder

Twisted our necks

And we couldn’t look away

Our Flitter weighted

As we held our breath

Didn’t breathe

until

In a collective gasp

we found

a voice

to exhale

Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter

The streets became our canvas

and the silence of the internet clicked and wanked

till community emerged

coalesced around the horror of racism we all know,

gas-lighted for decades

Black people are harmed by the spit and the spite

Of white people turning away

Even above systemic inequalities and white supremacy

Pressing on our necks

The year 2020 the world changed

before white folks did

before white folks did enough

before white folks did enough to courage-up

to fight against anti-Black racism

We are all in this together

Are we all in this together?

Embrace this poem

Talkback

to this poem with your heart, gentle

"Pandemic." Copyright © 2020 by Lillian Allen.

 

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Dwayne Morgan