Friday, June 17, 2005

Lillian Allen at the LCP AGM

I happened to come into the panel discussion on Dub poetry and Spoken Word at the LCP AGM just as Lillian Allen started to speak. I've seen her perform a number of times before, and always found her to be really neat, a great performer with a lot of depth, warmth, & humour. I love listening to her Caribbean lilt, and after a few hours would probably start adopting her intonations (I doubt if she would pick up on mine if she listened to me for any length of time -- nor would I wish that on her!).

Here, only slightly expanded upon for coherency, are my notes:.

-- poets (dub) fighting to open up sacred spaces, lost roots

-- alienation from the language of dominent culture, it's supression of vernacular

-- private spaces of communication: you feel it in your body, in who you are, as you express... leads to flow, transformation.

-- perfection (ism?) in language is an excuse for abuse

-- why tenses? Isn't the present tense all we really need?

-- varieties of English (so-called high, low) used for social demarcation, to create heirarchies (convenient way to shut out the underprivileged, stigmatize users of so-called slang & varient forms...) : Lillian's response:

"The Queen's language is her own,
& she should speak it from her throne."

(audience laughs)


-- forming collectives, rehearsal space
-- going back to language, words; & words back to roots in music.
-- not done to make money
-- poet as speaker for community: everyman cultural leader, inspiration for others
-- asks people to consider what is important in their lives
-- turning information into knowlege (inner truth, conviction)
-- political agenda: underprivilged rise up, throw aside fetters, claim what is theirs, birthright
-- akin to liberation theology. Dub poetry is liberation theology.

-- we need these voices, they are not superior or inferior, but a necessary part of the spectrum
-- do we prefer them cut out, ignored, to go back underground?

Lillian of course read/recited a couple of her poems... poems I would imagine would be half alive on the page, but which performed were as fully, truly alive. Following her was a young fellow who goes by the name of Spin. He did a remarkable recitation (more hip-hop influenced of course than Lillian), so did a younger protege of about 15. Spin emphasised poetry as a means by which the underprileged can not only to tell others what's wrong, but share what has empowered them to overcome their difficulties (including heavy stuff like substance abuse, doing time in prison, etc.), become an example for others. He promotes dub poetry in the Ontario school system.

If you want a good capsule definition of Dub Poetry, check this link. Interesting... Lillian is listed there as one of the notable practitioners of the art...

1 comment:

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