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Ontario Arts Council (OAC)
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Lillian Allen Prize and Lillian Allen Emerging Artist Prize


In 2024 the Ontario Arts Council, in partnership with the League of Canadian Poets, created the Lillian Allen Prize and the Lillian Allen Emerging Artist Prize to recognize and celebrate spoken word poetry.

The prizes are named after Canadian poet and spoken word artist Lillian Allen. Her distinctive approach to poetry through language, music and social consciousness continues to capture attention and make change. She embodies the excellence, creativity, and professionalism that she has brought to the form, and we recognize her community building and generosity of spirit by naming this prize in her honour. 

The Lillian Allen Prize supports and promotes a spoken word artist with five or more years’ experience, and the Lillian Allen Emerging Artist Prize is for a spoken word artist with less than five years’ experience.


  • Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada
  • Professional artist
  • Spoken Word poetry
Award selection is based on the following cycle:
  • Ontario residents
  • Canadian residents

Selection Procedure

Nominations for the Lillian Allen Prize and the Lillian Allen Emerging Artist Prize are submitted to the League of Canadian Poets, which manages the assessment and selection process.

Please visit the LCP website for details.


  • Annual

Award Amount

  • Lillian Allen Prize is $2,000
  • Lillian Allen Emerging Artist Prize is $2,000


Lillian Allen is an acclaimed foremother of Canadian Poetry.
A poet, writer/performer, and a long-time arts activist, she is a leading international exponent
of dub poetry with its politically charged reggae-infused aesthetic of resistance and poetic calls for justice, peace, joy, pleasure and revolution. Lillian is Toronto’s 7th Poet Laureate and has an Honourary Doctor of Letters from Wilfrid Laurier University for her significant contribution and impact on Canadian literature.
Lillian has also been a successful Cultural Strategist, impacting at the international level as a member of the executive of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and its Sectorial Commissions, and advising three levels of government, and played a key role in transforming the Toronto and Canadian cultural landscapes. A mentor for individuals and groups across many cultures, she brings her critical and effective equity and community building strategies to institutions such as OCAD University and the Toronto Arts Council. A creative writing professor at OCAD University, she initiated and led the development of a BFA in Creative Writing Program that acknowledges community connected writing, traditional, non-traditional and new writing forms.
Over the decades, she created opportunities for new generations of artists and initiated and led community-building youth-supporting arts programs such as Fresh Elements and Fresh Arts. She has mentored dozens of artists and cultural workers and received numerous accolades, citations and awards. She is the recipient of the Toronto Cultural Champions Award, the Margo Bindhardt Award for significantly impacting the arts in Toronto through both creative work and activism, and the William P. Hubbard Award for Race. She has delivered numerous lectures, and was Vancouver Island University’s 2020-21 Gustafson Distinguished Poet.
Lillian continues to artistically push the boundaries of poetry and the possibilities for language as she continues to inspire generations of young people. Her newest collection is Make the World New, WLU Press 2021. Other books include Women Do this Every DayPsychic Unrest, plus books and recordings for children and young people. Also, a globally recognized recording artist, Ms. Allen is a two-time Canadian Juno award winner for her recordings Conditions Critical and Revolutionary Tea Party, which was recently nominated for the prestigious Polaris Heritage Prize in Canada.