– By J.S. Porter

Dennis Lee wrote
a book about it,
person and planet
un-ing: unsing, unsong.
Shakespeare wrote
a play about it.
Lady Macbeth
wants to
unsex herself:
unfix,  unmake
In his poem, “The Return of Music”
Kazim Ali builds
on the un-ing—
unhappen, unmoment,
while large structures
in Manhattan.
When I’ve wronged another,
I want to unthink, unsay,
When I’ve lost hope:


According to David Crystal’s, ‘Think on my Words:’ Exploring Shakespeare’s Language, Shakespeare has a penchant for using Un in imaginative ways – 314 instances in the OED where he is the first citation for an Un-word.

Dennis Lee’s Heart Residence: Collected Poems 1967-2017, is out now and available in good bookstores everywhere.

The book blurb has it right: “This book is an exhilarating revelation. No other poet in Canada has the depth and range of Dennis Lee. Jazzman, jester, and metaphysician, hardball political thinker and passionate lover, he has been publishing poems for fifty years, working across the spectrum from nursery rhymes and skipping songs to uncompromising moral introspection to full-tilt love songs, plangent psalms, and ecstatic, solitary prayer. This Omnibus represents them all, and it will make your head spin.”

Dennis Lee is one of the great poets of the English language. In Heart Residence, he puts his children’s poetry side by side with his adult meditations and explorations – unbroken words, undivided lines.