Written by Dennis Lee
Publication Date April 01, 2003
It is hard to think of another book like Un. Reading it is like bouncing on a moral, intellectual, and linguistic trampoline.This astonishing sequence begins with a countdown that takes us not to zero, but to un. Lee is surveying the catastrophic new reality we have made of our planet. But pushing way past the mimetic, he plunges into language itself with shovel and pick-axe, digging up free-standing prefixes, syllables, roots, in a struggle to articulate what we can scarcely bear to think.
This untology is at once a lament for our squandered earth, a wake-up call, a dramatic poetic departure, and a song of despair, streaked with craggy hope. Lee's exploration turns play into prayer -- perhaps the only kind of prayer the contemporary world permits.
Dennis Lee, who co-founded the House of Anansi in 1967, has written close to forty books of poetry and prose. He was born in Toronto in 1939, won the Governor General’s Award for Civil Elegies and Other Poems in 1972, and published his iconic children’s collection, Alligator Pie, two years later. Since then he has written the song lyrics for Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock, and served as Toronto’s first poet laureate from 2001 to 2004, initiating the Toronto Legacy Project. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada, and was recently a resident artist at Soulpepper Theatre Company. Lee published his children’s collection Melvis and Elvis in 2015, and Heart Residence: Collected Poems 1967-2017 in 2017. He is married to the novelist Susan Perly, and has three children and two grandchildren.