Writing a poem—that is, inventing and manipulating our language to compose it—can be likened to lucid dreaming. In this course, you will learn to write poems as if dreaming lucidly, which means that you will learn to write with intention and precision without sacrificing intuition, and without allowing desire to control the poem (and its meaning) to hinder the imagination’s potential.
Many sleepers have experienced the pleasure of the lucid dream: the phenomenon of “waking” inside our dream and realizing that we are in fact dreaming, that we are still in the process of imagining it and therefore able to transform its substance or alter its direction as we move through it. Writing a poem—that is, inventing and manipulating our language to compose it—can be likened to lucid dreaming. When we begin to write, it may be said that we “wake” inside our own poem; we guide ourselves both intentionally and intuitively through the strange unknowns of that new place at the same time as we are constructing it. To write as if dreaming lucidly means that we approach the poem open to the possibilities of strangeness, irrationality, and unpredictability, as the Surrealists once did, but with the tools of technical precision and figurative language that will help us to hone the poem’s material into a vividly “real” place for the reader to inhabit, experience, and feel. In this course, we will learn to write poems as if dreaming lucidly, which means that we will learn to write with intention and precision without sacrificing our intuition, and without allowing our desire to control the poem (and its meaning) to hinder our imagination’s potential. To this end, we will do exercises that use dream-logic, encourage metaphorical play, and experiment with form and sound, as well as ones that further develop our technical skills, particularly our ability to use figurative language, images, and description. We will also turn to a diversity of poets for additional inspiration and guidance.