A Dreamer’s Dialectic by Doug Tanoury

The parallel between poetry and dreams have been a subject that has fascinated me for many years. The most striking similarity to me is that poems and dreams share a common language. Poetry is written in the language of dreams. Their common language is metaphor, symbolism and irony. These ancient communication devices are hardwired in human hearts. They bubble up and blossom most fully in our dreams.

I have been half-amused and somewhat satisfied by the thought that everyone is a poet. From an artistic standpoint I consider myself egalitarian, and in so much as everyone dreams, everyone weaves poems, using the tools that make poetry. Every dreamer is a poet and every poet a waking dreamer. The devices of poetry extend beyond the art form and are highly effective at quickly and efficiently communicating concepts with powerful impact. This is primal and primitive communication and it speaks more heart to heart, than mind to mind.

Dreams and poetry share a similar landscape where images hold more power than thoughts and words, where symbols carry more than concept but also trail emotions, metaphors hammer home more than meaning and irony cuts through pretense and preconceptions with painful intensity.

Dreams and poems are both the creations of a primordial part of the human psyche. A poem emerges from one’s unconsciousness, and as it passes into consciousness it is shaped and crafted by a poet’s technical prowess and stylized by their artistic skills.

As a young poet I was interested in using the tools of dream interpretation to analyze my own work and the works of other poets. I went beyond the standard psychological interpretation methodologies of Freud or Jung, for I have always found strictly clinical approaches not very effective. Reductive clinical techniques do a disservice to dreamers and therefore to poetry. Their focus is too narrow and confining: one must rather take an expansive approach to interpretation.

I approach interpretation of a poem as a poet, open to infinite possibilities and multiple meanings. I quickly discovered by using these methods that “a cigar is never just a cigar”. A thing is never “just a…” or “merely a…” for that is the reverse method used by clinicians to debunk symbols. Symbols always carry more meaning than the communication vessel alone; it makes things more than what they are. That is the magic of poetry and the magic of dreams. It is what elevates the poet and the dreamer, who even when they sleep are driven to common creation by something in them that always remains partially awake.

Doug Tanoury has been authoring poetic prose since a young boy. Doug’s poetry is featured in this year’s “Lucid Dreams,” now on display through August 9, 2011. You can read more here—A—B—C. Thank you and enjoy.

(Featured details from “Lucid Dreams” artwork from top: Tasha Kusama, Marc Bell, Tim Hussey).

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