Lee disavows much of Kingdom of Absence (1967), a sequence of 43 sonnet variations, but some of its concerns - modern ills, alienation, emptiness, colonialism, and their effects on the imagination and even on language - are developed in later books. Civil Elegies (1968, rev 1972; Governor General's Award) is a free-verse lament for Canada's colonized condition and a meditation on the need to become a full citizen: to occupy, imaginatively and in integrity, one's own life and land.
Reclaiming language and liberating imagination, key parts of this process, are best begun in childhood; accordingly, Lee tries to free Canadian children from a colonial mentality by creating poems rooted in the words and activities of their everyday lives, poems which encourage free imaginative play. His 2 best children's books appeared in 1974; Alligator Pie, for pre-schoolers, and Nicholas Knock and Other People for older children. On the adult level, roots and play (including lovemaking) are further explored in Part 1 of The Gods (1979). Part 2, The Death of Harold Ladoo (1976), is an elegy for Lee's friend, a writer murdered in 1973 during a visit to his native Trinidad. The poem also meditates on the roles of mystical epiphanies and of artistic creation in its attempt to come to terms with the problems of the contemporary world. His most recent work is Nightwatch (New and Selected Poems 1968-1996) (1996).
Author JOHN R. SORFLEET
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Shawnadithit grew anxious waiting for her uncle, Longnon, to return to camp at the junction of Badger Brook and the Exploits River, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland...