Roswila's Dream & Poetry Realm

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

Monday, February 18, 2008

DREAMKU: Exploring Dreams Through Haiku-Like Poems (workshop presentation)

Below is an online workshop I presented at the PsiberDreaming & The Creative Arts Conference of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, September 23 through October 7, 2007. There were over 150 comments posted during this workshop, most with one, and many with several dreamku written during the conference. There were even two dream haiga (haiga are illustrated haiku). It was a tremendously rewarding experience for me to share the dreamku form and have it so fully received and responded to, and in such an immediate way. I look forward to continuing to explore and develop the dreamku form with others in a Yahoo group I will be starting soon.

You will notice the mention of the term "psi" below. The overall conference explored the more psychic elements of dreams, such as clairvoyance and telepathy.

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DREAMKU: Exploring Dreams Through Haiku-Like Poems

[Illustration and dreamku by Patricia Kelly]


For several decades I’ve explored my dreams in lengthy journaling sessions, using the Tarot cards, and by writing free verse dream-based poems. About 20 years ago, I began writing in the haiku form; within a few years I was attempting to write haiku about my dreams. As I attempted to respect the haiku form while putting it to this uncommon use, I found insights to the source dreams would often occur spontaneously. This made me even more determined to develop a way of satisfactorily writing in the haiku form about my dreams. However, this was proving to be more of a challenge even than learning and applying the many subtleties of this small three-line Japanese poem. It eventually became apparent that I was faced with developing a new poetry form. And so “dreamku” was born: a very haiku-like poetry form through which we can open to the universe of wisdom and support available in our dreams, even as we creatively honor their often intriguing images.

By the way, there are haiku written about dreams by the Japanese masters and modern writers, and even a few of my own more “realistic” or subtle dreamku might qualify as haiku. This demonstrates the close kinship between the two forms. To read about how dreamku and haiku are alike and how they differ, see the link at the end of this workshop paper to my three-part blog post, A DREAMKU PRIMER.


In my experience, it has been almost entirely the source dreams of any dreamku that exhibit psi. (For me that is a very occasional telepathic, empathic or clairvoyant dream.) However, I do imagine that when more people are writing and sharing dreamku there will be more psi incidents occurring around the writing and sharing of dreamku, especially if they are being shared on a regular basis. (E.g., a dreamku writing friend and I have on a few occasions produced remarkably similar dreamku during the same time period, though we've never met in person and live almost a continent apart. I recently emailed the same friend a dreamku, for the first time in a while, along with the funny source dream in which she appeared. She said my dream/dreamku pretty well reflected some changes she’d made recently in a writing project.) I look forward to seeing how and what kinds of psi elements pop-up as writers continue to write and share dreamku.


Why write dreamku about our dreams? Personally, because I love writing poetry and I thoroughly enjoy using my dreams creatively within a very haiku-like form. But more importantly, during the writing of a dreamku there is frequently an insight into its source dream. As another dreamku writer says it can be “a quick way to the heart of a dream.”


the huge tree extends
an intricate branch towards me

-- dreamku by Patricia Kelly

A fellow poet recently asked if I had any particular goal in mind with respect to my dreams when writing dreamku. I don't. In fact, my only hopeful expectation is to write a viable dreamku. The dream insights that come during the writing of dreamku are always a welcome gift.

In writing a dreamku, I'm occasionally working it around to reflect the understanding I already have of the source dream. But much more frequently, the writing process itself precipitates an understanding I'd not yet had of the dream. For example, in the following dreamku: arresting//she finally spears//the goat in the stream, when the line “arresting” occurred to me I realized the dream was saying I need to stop destructive actions toward myself. (I'm a Capricorn, my Sun sign in astrology which is often symbolized by a fish-tailed goat. It was the goat being destructive and the dream “I” that speared it.)

In this dreamku: she disconnects//the melting plug//chilling, when the word “chilling” popped into my mind I associated it to “chill out” as in “calm down.” I realized that the extended state of hyper-emotionality I’d been in was doing me no good. And, of course, there’s that “chilling” insight that I might be approaching emotional meltdown, along with the solution in the dream’s symbolism: pull the plug (stop the negativity).

Another time, I wrote these two lines: he fills the office//with showy orange blooms, but could not come up with a third. Then I realized the dream was about fear of gossip and envy (both in others and me), and the last line: whisperings, finally occurred to me. So here there was a sort of reciprocal relationship: the first two lines of the dreamku gave me an insight, and the dream insight produced the third line.

Simply put, in my experience dream insights are most likely to come when we pay attention to a dream without expectation. Be that in writing, drawing, meditating, journaling, going to The Tarot, dancing the dream, sharing it with a group, etc. And writing dreamku on an aspect of a dream is, at its best, paying attention to the dream without expectation.

However, any dream message, meaning, or insight that surfaces while writing a dreamku is a gift that need not be apparent to a reader in the resultant dreamku itself. (This is true whether the insight appeared before or during the writing.) In my own experience, I find consciously attempting to write a dream insight into a dreamku often sinks that little poem like a stone. Those dreamku of mine that do carry some dream insight usually carry only a suggestion of it and usually without my intending to include it. This is an important point about both dreamku and haiku: they are almost always best when they share a moment for the reader to experience, and then to draw their own conclusions if they wish. I.e., when they “show not tell.” The dreamku and haiku forms are about suggestion and evocation, more than teaching and telling.

[Image: The Three of Cups in the Illuminated Rider Tarot]


Here are a few more dreamku for you to experience. Get inside them, try them on for size, see what they feel like, or what they suggest. If nothing in particular comes to you, I hope you enjoy the mystery. (Dreamku by others are used by permission.)

in the night garden
scent of lavender and pinks
he is leaving me

-- by Mary Pat Mann

exposed...her green skinned wicked witch
-- by Patricia Kelly
[Another dreamku and haiku style, the one-liner; note that it still adheres to the “two element” parameter I mention below.]

ghosts in the suburbs
roaming the night together
masks of animals

-- by Mary Pat Mann

I fear for us both
don’t go, evil is out there
black winged angels fly

-- by Vera Charline Wareham

moon, frog, bamboo
all I need for this haiku
I’ll give them to you

-- by Loyd Myatt
[Rhymes, especially end of line rhymes, can be distracting in such a small form and are rarely used in dreamku and haiku, but occasionally they work.]

three tattered pieces
a puzzle shuffled to fit
spell H-O-M-E

-- by Vera Charline Wareham

the path spirals
to the garden’s center
a first step

-- by Patricia Kelly


So, why not try your hand at dreamku. Those who start writing dreamku take to them readily. Most of the wonderful dreamku that have been shared with me were inspired just by reading some on my blog, before I even wrote a dreamku primer. Following are the most basic parameters and hints for writing in the dreamku form:

(1) Choose one image or section of a new or very recent dream on which to write a dreamku. (Newer dreams are more likely to precipitate dream insights in the writing process.) Usually the narrower your focus is within the dream, the better. Occasionally it is possible to encompass an entire dream, but usually only a very short one. You can always write additional dreamku on other elements of the dream later.

(2) Without taking time to interpret, associate, or relate deeply to the dream (but do, of course, immediately take notes on any insight that pops spontaneously) start describing the section of the dream you chose in the basic dreamku form of: (a) three lines, (b) with a total of no more than 17 syllables, and (c) if you like, in the traditional haiku form of 5/7/5 syllables.

(3) These three lines do not make one complete sentence. A dreamku, like a haiku, has two parts/elements. These elements are compared/contrasted (usually in an only implied way), or one of the two elements comes out of or results from the other. So the format is usually one sentence of two lines and a third either capping or starting line (often a partial sentence). (See sample dreamku above)

[Image: The Seven of Cups, in some decks called “Dream,” in the Rider/Waite/Smith Tarot]

(4) In choosing what part of a dream to write about I follow the tug of my interest or intuition. Once writing, I tend to enter an intuitive almost dream-like state of mind, choosing what to keep and what to let go (if anything) from the dream image, mostly based again on a gut feeling.

(5) Sometimes it can feel like a sacrifice to cut something from the dream image to fit it into the dreamku form. However, you can (a) leave the dreamku as it is, i.e. do not cut anything as some lovely gems do have flaws, or (b) make the sacrifice for the sake of “art” and maybe write another dreamku on a different aspect of the same dream.

(6) You might try writing a dreamku on a dream as soon as you wake from it. Re-entering the dream moment in an intuitive state is usually a lot quicker and the writing process even smoother closer to sleep and the source dream. I do this especially with very short dreams, sometimes letting the dreamku then serve as the dream record.

That’s more than enough for starters, give it a try. And have fun! This reminds me, humor and whimsy are most definitely welcome in dreamku and haiku. Who knows what your dreams may offer while you are busy writing about them.


I happily look forward to writing, reading, and responding to inspiring dreamku during this conference. I’ll be around a lot, so don’t hesitate to leave comments and questions along with your dreamku, or email me.

I hope to start a dreamku group blog, to which those who sign up can post dreamku, and also leave comments and ask questions. Please email me if you want to be notified when this group blog is up and running. [Note of 2/18/08: I am now hoping to start a Yahoo dreamku group, rather than a blog, within a couple of weeks.] In any case, I’d love to hear about your experiences with dreamku.

You might also want to visit my dreams and poetry blog. It has a daily dreamku and a large archive of daily dreamku by month (see LINKS below). I will also continue to post about various aspects of and experiences with dreamku.

little footprints raise
on my friend’s pregnant belly
a new path

-- by Patricia Kelly


Joseph Kirschner. Inside Out: Haiku and Dreams (Evanston, Ill.: Deep North Press, 2003). 88 pages; 5.25´´ x 8´´; perfectbound. ISBN 1-929116-10-1. $20.00 postpaid in the United States from the author at 2157 Ridge Ave, 2D, Evanston IL 60201.


A DREAMKU PRIMER, the first of my three-part post (Part I and Part II each have a link at the end to the next part); includes a complete list and in-depth descriptions of the various dreamku elements, along with more hints and how-to’s; also indicates how dreamku and haiku are alike and how they differ.

ALL DAILY DREAMKU POSTED IN MARCH 2007, one month’s daily dreamku with an introduction.

TINYWORDS, a new contemporary haiku everyday, with a huge searchable archive; reading haiku is a good way to begin to develop a feel for the possibilities of the dreamku form.

AHA POETRY: TANKA RESOURCES, a fellow dreamku writer finds the form a bit constricting and is trying the five line tanka form, as well.

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‘til next time, keep dreaming,


[aka: Patricia Kelly]

****If you wish to copy or use any of my writing or poems, please email me for permission (under “View my complete profile”)****My other blogs ROSWILA’S TAROT GALLERY & JOURNAL and ROSWILA’S TAIGA TAROT.

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