My poems are dreams in word form.
I love the protean quality of both dreams and poems. You never know what an image or word will turn into. Life is like that; only we don’t see it that way. Everything seems permanent and fixed, but it isn’t. As we get older and look back on our lives, we realize how much like a dream or poem it all is.
When writing a poem, I do not know what will unfold. The words popping out surprise me as much as my readers.
Writing a poem is not unlike dreaming. There’s only one fundamental difference. When writing a poem, you have to activate both your conscious and unconscious mind.
Poetry is the warp and woof of the Bible.
Each spark seeks another spark to make a fire.
For me poems are as much oral as visual, as much spoken as written. I need to perform them as much as I need to write them.
Symbols fill the gap between raw energy and form. Poetry and dreams do the same.
Poetry and dreams are two of the most potent vehicles for unveiling the unconscious.
Playing board games is great preparation for writing poems. They both involve play.
Poems let you play with words, just as dreams let you play with images.
Whenever I complete a poem or any writing project, I feel as if I’m sending my child into the world.
I love poetry in part because of its fragmentary quality, like dreams.
Poems resemble dreams in the rich symbolism their words express and the protean quality of their embedded images.
At its most profound, poetry unites meaning, beauty, truth, wisdom, and love.
“In the Same Place” by C.P. Cavafy (1863-1933): my translation
Surroundings of home, cafes, a neighborhood,
that I have seen and walked through year after year.
I gave you form amid joy and amid sorrows:
with so many incidents, so many details.
And you have transmuted into a feeling for me.
Στον ίδιο χώρο
Οικίας περιβάλλον, κέντρων, συνοικίας
που βλέπω κι όπου περπατώ· χρόνια και χρόνια.
Σε δημιούργησα μες σε χαρά και μες σε λύπες:
με τόσα περιστατικά, με τόσα πράγματα.
Κ’ αισθηματοποιήθηκες ολόκληρο, για μένα.
Louise Bogan, “Night” (1954)
The cold remote islands,
And the blue estuaries
Where what breathes, breathes
The restless wind of the inlets,
And what drinks, drinks
The incoming tide,
Where shell and weed
Wait upon the salt wash of the sea,
And the clear nights of stars
Swing their lights westward
To set behind the land;
Where the pulse clinging to the rocks
Renews itself forever;
Where, again on cloudless nights,
The water reflects
The firmament’s partial setting;
In your narrowing darkhours
That more things move
Than blood in the heart.
Marge Piercy, “To be of Use” (from The Art of Blessing the Day: Poems with a Jewish Theme: New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999)
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out
The work of the world is common as mud
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
A poet is one who sees into the fire that creates and sustains the universe.
Under waking anesthesia, life moves as a dream does. Time contracts. Moments take on greater meaning. Events do not flow from one to another, but from symbol to symbol, forming a poem and a painting.
Our bodies are poems, Every cell, tissue, nerve, muscle, bone, and organ are the words.
Our body are poems with beauty and meaning found in every cell, tissue, nerve, muscle, bone, and organ.
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