Guess who’s back guess who’s back guess who’s back

Toronto – pOetic gEsture
An’ de beat of Toronto

ah rhythm & sway

cannot wait to be embraced

This diverse alive in verse city

where trees grow around the cement

Our new self in concrete

Our feet against concrete

As we go about our ways

Percussion play echoing

learning to love what we have made

softening between brick and cement

a built-up world, steeples and stairs

glass mirrors

sparing for social change
New voices roasted enwrapped in ice

My mother walked from the plane into a fridge

That is Toronto in winter

“The best of times” she says “and the coldest of times”

Incubating a whirl of creativity

And visionary relativities

Ideas swirl, cultural voices unfurl

Making us larger than we are becoming

Dub Poetry, Hip Hop, Opera,

Visual smarts and Community Arts
Toronto in Excelsis!
You Toronto are my water bottle

My arts thirst quencher

No matter how far I roam

You pull me back

Your wide-open welcoming arms

A union formed

Our web of connection becomes visible

With every brush stroke on canvas

every stone carved

with every architects’ vision

every note from the heart

An’ for those who lived strident

and have gone before

Let their names not be forgotten

but be called who they truly are

Lovers of Justice, standing for peace, not war.
And to all the battles fought

Freedom sought on the grounds of Queen’s Park

and Nathan Phillips Square, City Hall

or the roar of communities at Young and Bloor

‘down with inequality, injustice, brutality’

International Women’s Day parade, Caribana jump up

You have made our City strong

A republic of possibilities

A home to belong
We are trees standing in the water

A gathering of tribes

An abundance of hope

A destiny and a destination

from which a future must be forged

We were community before Simcoe

We are Hurons, and visitors and traders

Adventurers and underground railroaders

We are the Iroquois’s promise of unity

We are Kensington and Parkdale, Palmerston and Jane an’Finch

We’re High Park and East York, Forest Hill and Yorkville

We’re Rosedale and Cawthra Square, Regent Park and North York

We’re Bloor Street and Junction, Harbourfront and Eglinton

We are a three million sided heart
And homelessness is us

Our little scar

That part split off

Lost, hiding, frightened, too tired to fight

Or resolved too soon

Needing a way back to the promise
Oh yes, we are the “superman” Joe Schuster penned to paper

An experiment splashed by the waves of Lake Ontario

prancing for a great makeover

The postmodern too slow a nation

It was no slam-dunk from Hubbard to Zanana
We are our parklands, winding creeks, nature preserves

We are free public spaces, ravines of lush graces

protected wetlands

We are the Humber and the Don
“fishing weir”
We are a thousand miles from our longings

Pinning dreams on over twenty thousand street corners

With many bridges to cross over

We are the beat, a city in heat

Alive, diverse and strutting verse

We are new age digital microwave

satellite communicators

Fiber wave optics, print, radio

and Television originators
We are our peoples’ toil in this land

Our dreams alive in this land

A three million sided heart is this land

We are Toronto

                an experiment gone grand

Lillian Allen is a Creative Writing Professor at the Ontario College of Art & Design University in Toronto Canada. Allen emerged from the grassroots in the seventies to become a leading influential figure on the Canadian cultural landscape.


She is an award winning and internationally renowned poet. As one of its lead originator and innovators, she has specialized in the writing and performing of dub poetry, a new genre of English Literature which is a highly politicized form of poetry preferring a black aesthetic and specific cultural codification. Dub poetry is a poetic form, which stylizes vernacular language, the emotive quality and inherent musicality of words and is sometimes set to music. It is considered a literary godmother of rap, hip-hop and spoken word poetry.


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