Profile: Dennis Lee

By Helen Kubiw, July 2018

Writing a profile about Dennis Lee is like writing one for Margaret Atwood or Michael Ondaatje: superfluous.  Dennis Lee, like those two other greats, is already part of the canon of CanLit and his biography and bibliography of published works is firmly established.  However, there is so much more to this man than his encyclopedia entry.

I could tell you details about the dozens of poetry collections, essays and prose that he has published over the last fifty years, or his accolades like his appointment as an Officer of the Order of Canada, his Governor General’s Award or his appointment as Toronto’s first Poet Laureate. But for young readers and their parents, it will be his children’s books that will be drawing them to hear this CanLit icon read at this year’s children’s venue.

Many people have fond memories of Dennis Lee’s award-winning poetry collections, Alligator Pie (1974) and Jelly Belly (1983), and he has continued to delight and connect children with poetry in his most recent illustrated book. Good Night, Good Night (HarperCollins, 2018) is a collection of poetry that will enchant readers with the charm of sleep and dreaming. From “The Coming of Teddy Bears” to “Cool Pillow,” this collection turns bedtime into a sweet lyrical experience that embraces both reader and listener. Accompanied by Qin Leng’s ink and watercolour illustrations, Dennis Lee’s rhyming and free verse poetry inspires awe in going to bed, taking the experience from the most personal to the most expansive and inclusive. 

Good Night, Good Night

The dark is dreaming.

Day is done.

Good night, good night

To everyone.


Good night to the birds,

And the fish in the sea,

Good night to the bears

 And good night to me.

Come hear Dennis Lee, Canada’s icon of children’s poetry, read from his newest children’s book Good Night, Good Night to experience the wonder of bedtime and the rhythms of the night.