Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Inspiration from dreams, part 1

I have been transcribing from my dream diaries, most diligently since last June, as it is a necessary thing for me to do - before I am unable to read my own scrawl and also to refresh my memory about images and concepts. I have had a long interest in dreams and dream interpretation (starting with Jung and Freud but also developing personally beyond prescriptive interpretation). Last week at the studio drop-in (Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Arts Office) at The Lexicon in Dún Laoghaire, I decided I would do a left-handed dream drawing of a recent vivid dream. I am right-handed but have found in the past that doing an entire drawing with the left hand gives me enormous freedom.


My fascination with dreams has inspired both my visual work and my writing. Recently I have been included on the Poetry Sound Map reading my poem "Portrait", which was published in New Irish Writing back in 1989. My reading is a recent one, and if writing today, I think that perhaps I would have titled the poem "Self-portrait". It is entirely inspired by and describes my interest in dreams.


I have also recently had a few poems published online in The Scarlet Leaf Review (Jan 2019), two of which reference dreams. In 2016, within my writing, I made a point of familiarising myself with classic forms in poetry, and used the precision of the vilanelle form to write a poem based on a dramatic and vivid dream. The final poem was published in November 2017 in The Examined Life Journal, a vehicle out of the University of Iowa's Carver College. (The poem is impossible to read from the image, so I have transcribed it below.)



A Dream of Dead You

Earth embedded in the fingertips, your dead hands wave
And I notice your shrunken face, your ragged clothes
I will guide you, dead you, sadly but firmly back to your grave

You wanted to remind me of the pleasure you gave
And came back to me, impossibly, from the ground you rose
Earth embedded in ehe fingertips, your dead hands wave

I am glad to see you, cherishing the love we used to crave
But we no longer have that time, your heart no longer glows
I will guide you, dead you, sadly but firmly back to your grave

Your hollow black eyes reflect the darkness of a cave
And funereal depths where not even a cold wind blows
Earth embedded in ehe fingertips, your dead hands wave

From confusion and terrible anguish, you, I cannot save
Lustreless and wretched, a reminder of what my heart knows
I will guide you, dead you, sadly but firmly back to your grave

I have a life that you do not, I beg you to be brave
But your hopeless stance echoes mine and weariness shows
Earth embedded in ehe fingertips, your dead hands wave
I will guide you, dead you, sadly but firmly back to your grave

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Not all my dreams are about death! This oilstick drawing, based on a dream, I have entitled "Ocean of Life". I am not sure when I did the drawing, as it is unsigned and undated (at least on the front of the drawing, it is hanging, framed in my hallway!). I think it is drawn sometime in the 1980s and I may have had the dream in 1983 when I was living near Lake Ontario in Toronto. At least it was Lake Ontario that featured in the dream. And I remember the figures joyously bouncing in the rough water. I remember at the time I recognised this as a parallel to a previous dream where a school of dolphins were playfully diving in turbulent waters. This, however, is not a left-handed drawing.


In next week's blog, I will continue discussing dreams with more work inspired by dreams.

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