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Tips on Writing the Dream Poem

By Lori Swick

If You are Having Weird Dreams ... Write Poems About Them!

Many of the world's famous poets, including Voltaire, Goethe, and Christina Rosetti said that they drew creatively on their dreams. Several of the poems that I have had published were based on vivid dreams. So, drawing on the research I did for my latest book, here is a tried and true method of producing a prize-winning poem based on that wild dream you had last night.

Journal Your Dream

Write down every detail you can remember, no matter how minute or trivial it may seem. Sometimes the real meaning of the dream is packed into images that seem irrelevant when reviewing the storyline of the dream. For example, though the house you are in within your dream is totally different than the house you really live in, the layout of the rooms might carry symbolic significance concerning your "situation" in life. Though it might not seem important that you were a passenger in a dream car ride, whether or not you were in the driver's seat or the back seat can indicate deep feelings about control within the relationships in your waking life.

Read Through Your Journal and Make a List of the Supercharged Symbols

This can consist of colors, shapes, patterns, numbers, animals, or objects. Pay particular attention for things that defy natural observance – like eyes of an odd color or buildings that seem strange or out of shape. Things like the moon, snakes, feathers, flying, falling, loss of teeth, visits from deceased loved ones, are all significant (and frequent) dream symbols.

Frequent and Important Symbols will Frame the Mood, Structure, and Flow of Your Poem

Dream dictionaries can be a good way of trying to figure out what dream symbols mean, but I find it's even more effective to ask yourself what you associate with each symbol and trust your instincts about interpreting them.

Remember that the actual narrative of your dream may not be as important as the symbolic flow of your poem. As your awareness of the significance of the symbols grows, their importance and emotional impact within your poem will too. As you will see, the symbolic function of your poem will take on a life of its own and grow into something more universal and wonderful than you ever imagined.

Write and Revise your Poem as an Organic, Growing, Learning, and Personal Experience

Not only will this be a deeply gratifying personal experience but, interestingly enough, this process will make your poem meaningful to others who read it too. As depth psychologists like Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung have shown, all humans have a "collective consciousness" that draws on similar symbolic psychological knowledge, experience, and awareness. For this reason, poetry written in this manner will cut through the superficial layers of your audience's awareness and strike at the core of their psychological and emotional feelings.

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