(Not) Today in Class: Two Assignments
Dream a little dream. I dreamed last night that I almost killed two kittens I was keeping in Tupperware. I forgot to give them water.
Next week my students will come to class with dream journals and dream poems in hand. They’ve spent a week remembering their dreams or making up their dreams. They’ll be thinking about dream logic and dreaming about thinking logic. They will want to spend class talking about dreams, and we will because I like talking about my dreams as much as the next dreamer. One of my favorite poems is Berryman’s “Dream Song 14,” though it isn’t very dreamlike:
Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) “Ever to confess you’re bored
means you have no
Inner Resources.” I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
Peoples bore me,
literature bores me, especially great literature,
Henry bores me, with his plights & gripes
as bad as Achilles,
who loves people and valiant art, which bores me.
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag
and somehow a dog
has taken itself & its tail considerably away
into the mountains or sea or sky, leaving
behind: me, wag.
Two more of my favorite dream poems, and these follow a straightforwardly beautiful dream-logic, are James Tate’s “All Over the Lot” and Charles Simic’s “Early Evening Algebra.” More poems about dreams and sleep here. Write a matter-of-fact poem about a recent dream you’ve had. Don’t embellish; don’t editorialize. Write it straight.
Last week, as I’ve mentioned, we did Alternate Surfaces in class. Index-as-poem, driving directions-as-poem. These kinds of poems follow a different logic, and while not “dreamlike,” it’s one that doesn’t make immediate “sense” to the eye. Oh, but it’s such a cool way to stretch and tug at perception. You should do this too. Write a poem or story in a new form. Here’s what my students came up with. Poem as:
-astronomy book glossary entries
-missed connections ala Craigslist
-second grade spelling list
Feel free to post snippets of what you’ve written here, or your thoughts on the process of writing in these modes.