Roswila's Dream & Poetry Realm

SEE ALSO: TRYING TO HOLD A BOX OF LIGHT (photos, realistic to abstract)

Monday, June 18, 2007

A DREAMKU PRIMER (Part 3 of 3): Writing Haiku-Like Poems About Your Night Dreams

[Image: dreamku notebook cover collage by Roswila]

A DREAMKU PRIMER (Part 3 of 3):
Writing Haiku-Like Poems About Your Night Dreams


How to Write Dreamku

(See previous two posts for Introduction & Part One: Writing Dreamku as Dream Work, and Part Two: Elements of the Haiku Form Used in Dreamku)

These “how to’s” are listed in the approximate order you might use them.

(1) READ HAIKU AND WHATEVER DREAMKU YOU CAN FIND: to absorb what these forms are about. (See sidebar for haiku links and search this blog for “dreamku.”)

(2) ONE DREAM MOMENT PER DREAMKU: Keep your focus narrowed to one moment per dreamku. Once in a great while I’ve found it possible to write a dreamku about an entire long dream, but generally speaking, trying to do so only produced a forced and extremely busy dreamku. Select one moment of the dream you find particularly impactful, intriguing, amusing, or puzzling, or even repellant. I’ve also just closed my eyes, wiggled my forefinger around above my dream notes page, then plunked it down, and written about the moment I wound up pointing to. Whatever gets you writing about the dream! You can always write subsequent dreamku on other moments of that same dream.

(3) “JUMP RIGHT IN, THE WATER’S FINE”: no pre-thinking or analysis; just start organizing words describing the dream moment you’ve picked into the dreamku form. The rest (i.e. what to highlight, how best to describe what, what to drop or add, order of lines, spontaneous insight into the dream, etc.) will flow from that process. Occasionally, I feel drawn to write a dreamku on a moment from an old dream I’ve already analyzed at great length. That can be an intriguing process, too. A few times it has revealed new ways to understand the dream moment or even the full dream.

(4 ) “NO DUMPING ALLOWED”: Don’t toss out a dreamku that doesn’t seem to be working. I’ve found that with dreamku they often benefit from steeping for a while, even more so than other sorts of poems I write. E.g., I’ll enter a questionable dreamku in my little notebook and weeks, even months later I will suddenly see what it needs to work. And even if it never works as a dreamku, you have it as part of the source dream’s record.

(5) INTENSITY PERMITTED: There is a long established “haiku spirit” that is understated and inviting, that makes the expression of emotional intensity in haiku quite a challenge, to say the least, but also helps create that wonderful unforced and frequently very subtle haiku sensibility. I do not think emotional intensity should be avoided altogether in haiku and especially not in dreamku, as emotions can so often be an integral part, even the heart of dream moments. That said, I have found that it is not easy to do within dreamku. Intense words and emotions do tend to overwhelm both the haiku and the dreamku form, to come across as overblown even when most sincerely stated. However, don’t be afraid to try expressing intense emotion, but do carefully read over your intensely emotional dreamku for their possible impact. It may mean you will need to dial back the emotion a bit in order to make it more workable within the dreamku form. So that the form can effectively carry what the dream moment is offering. Of all the aspects of the developing dreamku form, this is the one I wrestle with most. In fact, I can imagine that folk who are knowledgeable about haiku wince when they read some of my more intense dreamku. Though I do think I am gradually learning how to be emotionally expressive in a dreamku in a way that does not sink the poem, nor dilute or do injustice to the dream moment itself. Here’s a dreamku of mine about intense emotion:

grief numbs
she dances on the rocks to
reduce them to sand

In an early version I used the word “grind” instead of “reduce.” I liked the echo of the “gr” in grief, but felt the word “grind” itself made the dreamku too harsh, too heavy. That in effect it ground the dreamku down along with the rocks.

(6) DROPPING FROM AND ADDING TO THE DREAM MOMENT: Don’t hesitate to drop parts of the dream moment as you write the dreamku or, conversely, to be descriptive about the dream moment in a way the dream may not have been as long as it “rings true.” When we start to write a dreamku we are usually entering an intuitive (even sometimes dream-like) frame of mine, and whatever deletions or additions suggest themselves will almost certainly be quite appropriate. Also I believe a dreamku need not be a literal transcript of the dream moment to be true to the dream. Arguably, any experience that is not the actual moment as it is being experienced is memory and, therefore, subject to change in our minds. But even so, stay as close as possible to that dream moment, and know that it may still require tweaking for its life to shine through. Generally speaking, dream moments seem to require paring down in dreamku writing, far more often than amplification.

(7) DATE AND RECORD ALL DREAMKU: in a journal. I keep my dreamku in a different notebook from my dream journal, but you will determine what arrangement works best for you. I do strongly recommend, though, that you date your dreamku the same date as the source dream, no matter when you actually write the dreamku. I’ve found I occasionally want to read the entire dream from which a dreamku came and that way I can find it in my dream journal.

(8) EXPERIMENT: Don’t be afraid to experiment with the dreamku form. But do first become familiar with it’s parameters by writing in it for a while. When you do experiment, try not to go so far afield that the dreamku has no roots in the basic haiku form. I’ve tried writing a few dreamku series – based on one full dream or a series of dreams – in which there is a progression or some sort of link from one dreamku to the next. I also usually write each dreamku in a series so that it could stand alone. (In fact, some of my series consist of “singletons” that I only put together under a title later when I saw that they related to each other.) Below is a series that also illustrates how I’ve tried working with emotional intensity. The overall feel of the series is emotionally dark (dreamku two and five are more explicitly so, and the rest implicitly).

(based on dreams of 12/21/06)

he admits to
inappropriate longings
time trip

bed-time story
the young girl threatens
to call the police

the famous man
signs his photo for the girl

I track the lost girl
by her noisy shoes
dark tunnel

the girl rounds on me
with a knife in each hand
listen closely!

Here’s another very experimental series in which I work with repetition, and with having each dreamku depend on the previous – as opposed to being able to stand alone. These departures from my own ideas of what the dreamku form is about were prompted by the content of the dreams. Also, the last dreamku in the series has a definite point to it, which I mostly try to avoid. But it was one of those dream moments that spoke its point – I “heard” the words – and it pulled the previous dream moments together, so I decided to quote it.

(from dreams in March & early April 2007)

lesson one
her troubled son
is now in my lap

lesson two
his friend's illness
swamps me

lesson three
we don't have to follow
along in these lines

lesson four
she wears sparkly hose
on her huge legs

lesson five
my friend casually drinks
diamond dust

lesson six
they collage the inside
of a glass vase

lesson seven
dying, living
it's all art


The “pointed” dreamku that ends the above series is a good place to close. If I believe that I can hold on to anything in life it is to the understanding that we create our responses to the present moment. That said, I invite you to create some dreamku and share them. Sharing can be very affirming, encouraging, and inspiring in any sort of writing effort, but especially when you are working in a form new to you. It can also be intriguing to hear of others’ associations to your dreamku. In several instances, the similarities between my dreamku moments and an email friend’s were delightful surprises. One friend said that she had learned something new about her dreamku just by choosing some to share with me by email. You can always email me your dreamku, comments, or questions (click on “View My Complete Profile” in sidebar), or post them in a comment here or under the DAILY DREAMKU. I will be delighted to respond.

Click here for an important update to this three part primer.

* * * *

Resources: DREAMS: The International Association for the Study of Dreams. HAIKU: The Isn'ts of Haiku. DREAMKU: See DAILY DREAMKU at top of blog homepage, and search this blog for "dreamku" (there is a post every month of the entire month's daily dreamku).

Labels: , , , ,


At 6:12 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think these are great! It's wonderful to see all three up on your blog :)

I'm still not remembering most of my dreams clearly, but want to share two recent dreamkus as a response to your articles... not my most memorable efforts, but part of an ongoing process!

young girl mad at me
I wanted to be friendly
but forgot her name

new job tending bar
both nights every weekend
I don't want it

Hmmm... can we see that my dream connections need mending??

all the best, Mary Pat

At 10:54 AM , Blogger Roswila said...

Oh, my, oh my-oh! Fresh dreamku. Thanks, Mary Pat.

Definitely "part of an ongoing process...when I read my earliest dreamku I chant that, over and over. LOL! Even now, when I experiment I figure I'll need to remind myself of that later on.

That first has some very deep resonances for me right now with a friendship. Amazing how that can happen in any sort of sharing of dreams, isn't it?

If that second one were my dreamku (:-D) I'd say I'm rather busy to be dealing with a passle of dreams and dreamku...for now, that is of course.

Thanks again, M.P.!

At 5:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The series really opens all the doors and encourages dreamku magic. Very beautiful - Thanks!


At 8:24 PM , Blogger Roswila said...

Thanks, Joneve. Your comment does my heart and dreams good! :-) (Are you going to try your poet's hand at some dreamku, someday, hmmmm?)

At 4:38 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Roswila,

I am finally responding to your invitation, a month late I know, but I finished reading your three posts. I don't do any dream work nor keep a dream journal. I rarely remember any dreams and the others when they dream will sometimes spill over onto me. The only dreams I have that are vivid enough to remember are the tornado dreams.

I really enjoy all your dreamku, they are very vivid. I write haiku when I feel the need to express myself. I don't follow any rules other than the 5/7/5.

With your dream work, is there a goal in mind?

At 11:30 AM , Blogger Roswila said...

Brian, thanks so much for reading A DREAMKU PRIMER. Yes, many folk don't recall dreams. I go through fallow periods myself (but usually not more than a day or two :-D). Should you be interested in developing recall there are ways some folk find useful. But I do want to stress I don't think anyone need feel they should remember their dreams. We each have areas of life we want and tend to relate to best. :-)

As to any goal in mind with dream work? No particular goal. In fact, staying open to anything that might surface is the key to opening the gift a dream offers us. I don't even expect to open the dream, in fact. Some (as I said in the primer) remain just intriguing images/dreamku. But I welcome the insight that often comes at some point as I'm writing the haiku. In a future post, I'll go into more detail on how that seems to happen for me. It's like taking a quiet stroll in a forest in the twilight, thinking of other things ... and then, over there, oh, a beautiful shy creature appears!

Speaking of which, I visited your blog again. And I really appreciated all those lovely photos. A bit of peace and beauty sorely missing in my life right now. Thanks!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home