We all dream and many of us wake, unaware of what we dreamt or, perhaps, left with a dim memory. Dreams, like life, come and go, leave us with memories, regrets, or a feeling of relief and celebration. Poetry is the “net” which captures these feelings, bringing them out of the shadows and into the light.
And dreams are the perfect inspiration for poetry. Today’s “lesson” is more of an offering of an insight into the way dreams, or the desire to dream and a bit of imagination, may lead you into the world of poetic wonder.
If you have dreamt of being lost, of wandering, of seeking something you can’t find – find the words, the images, the metaphors, and similes to take us, where your dream took you. You may not “wander lonely as a cloud,” but you might have found yourself “lost in the embrace of a dream/ stumbling through shadows/ tripping over tears…” You may have felt “the dark, gray fingers of fear / the light touch of laughter/ dread tightening like a closing fist/ around your heart.”
Let your dreams, upon waking, take you into a world of imagery, of words coming together to bridge the gap between sleep and waking, so that we may know what you know, feel what you feel, understand the connection between us.
If you are like me, you have dreams that seem to be bits and pieces of time and space. You wake remembering a scramble of faces, places, doing this and that, no storyline, no semblance of order – and that, my friends, is the perfect inspiration for a poem. Take those fragments, those “broken glass” moments and tease them into a poem. The feeling of being lost, the old friend or lost loved one, the laughter coming from behind a curtain, the stumbling over broken ground, the need to find something, the need to lose something… All these fragments are what nourishes poetry, and the poem may take a turn you were not expecting, once you start writing it. It may just negotiate its way through the erratic moments of your dreams and turn them into a startling poem, revealing things to you, the poet, that you “never knew you never knew.”
Here’s another bit of advice. Keep a pad and pencil by your bedside. I often wake, particularly from a troubled dream, with a kind of desperate need to both remember and forget, the dream. It is almost as if, I woke myself to escape the dream. Jot down what you remember – a scream – a dark tunnel – a hand reaching out to you – being lost in a maze – swimming against a strong current – touching something that made your skin crawl – hearing a desperate voice calling your name… And then, when time is available and you have achieved a place of calm, choose one or more of the things you wrote down and start to expand on them. It does not have to be your retelling of the dream – it does need to be, where the dream took you, and where you want to take us.
FRAGMENTS OF A DREAM
The scream was startling
as icy fingers crawling
down the back of my neck I
trembled out of breath
as though the current
of my dreams were pulling me
down we were truly lost
in yesterday today
alone I drown.
– SAK (All rights reserved)