Night Errands: How Poets Use Dreams

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Night Errands is a long overdue anthology, comprising personal essays and accompanying poems by over two dozen contemporary American poets. It is the first collection to focus specifically on the messages the subconscious sends nightly to poets, and the ways such communications affect their work. The book is based on the premise that dreams and poetry are intimately related and, in fact, parallel languages. Both rely on compression, juxtaposition, deep imagery, and ambiguity to create a charged atmosphere and ...
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Overview

Night Errands is a long overdue anthology, comprising personal essays and accompanying poems by over two dozen contemporary American poets. It is the first collection to focus specifically on the messages the subconscious sends nightly to poets, and the ways such communications affect their work. The book is based on the premise that dreams and poetry are intimately related and, in fact, parallel languages. Both rely on compression, juxtaposition, deep imagery, and ambiguity to create a charged atmosphere and unearth buried truths.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This engaging volume of over two dozen mostly original essays focuses on how the subconscious affects the poetry of contemporary American poets. Townley (executive director, The Writer's Place, Kansas City, MO) proposes that dreams and poetry are parallel languages: both rely heavily on the thoughts of the subconscious mind and on symbolic imagery, and "both employ compression and startling imagery and proceed by leaps rather than conventional logic." Each essay, written by poets such as Joyce Carol Oates, David Ignatow, and Laurel Blossom, explores how dreams and the subconscious influence each author's work, and each includes pertinent poetry samples and a photograph of the poet. The poets subscribe to a variety of styles, schools, and aesthetic sensibilities, and the collection represents a wide age range as well as an equal division of gender. Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries.--Kim Woodbridge, "The Scientist," Philadelphia
Booknews
Twenty-six contemporary poets share their work and reveal connections between their dreams and their poetry. Includes b&w photos of contributors. No index. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Charlotte Observer
I saw an ad for Night Errands in The New York Review of Books and didn't rest—or dream—until it arrived in my mailbox. ...Night Errands will send the poet and reader of poetry on many day errands—you'll encounter poets and the mention of poets you'll want to read again; there are enticing words to look up; and an enticing "Selected Bibliography" to keep you busy far into the millennium.
Choice
In insightful essays (some abstract, some concrete), the poets discuss intricate relationships between dream states and poems . . . The picture is large and rich . . . fascinating personal odysseys into the mysteries of writing poetry.
Forecast Bridgewater, NJ
A unique anthology of poems, accompanied by personal essays, collects works by ontemporary American poets that explore the interrelation of dreams and poetry, showing the similarities between the two and meditating on the subconscious roots of creativity.
Kansas City Magazine
Night Errands brings together primary materials from poets speaking in their highly individual voices.
Kennebec Journal
One of the most singular and satisfying literary books on dreams I've read in a long while. . . . Although Night Errands is not intended to be a Who's Who in contemporary poetry, its sampling is lively and first-rate. . . . Townley has artfully arranged to have all his poets dreaming together. The result is a rare peek into the subconscious of more than two dozen serious poets.
Richard Tillinghast
New and original material . . . helps the reader better understand the relation between dreams and poetry. The subject is of interest to all students of poetry and the other arts and . . . it would have a wide appeal beyond the academic market.
SF Bay Literary Supplement
The poets featured here . . . attempt to unravel the connections between dreams and poetry. The result is an illuminating, nuanced, and cliche-free compendium. Sprinkled throughout are epiphanies on the subconcious, the writing process, and the art of poetry.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822957300
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 184
  • Product dimensions: 5.95 (w) x 8.93 (h) x 0.68 (d)

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From the Introduction

It takes a special kind of bravery . . . to enter the dark wood of the subconscious and confront whatever lives there. Unlike the knights errant of the past, who merely slew their dragons and brought back their bloody tongues, the poet’s night errand is to bring back his creature alive, its tongue intact and singing. The songs will be enigmatic, even after the poet has given them form and translated them into the waking vernacular. The strangeness is still upon them. That’s what makes them poetry...
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
Deciphering the Dream: The Day Logic of Poetic Process 13
On the Past, Poetry, and Dream 24
Out of the Underworld: Poetry and Dreams 28
Impressionism and the Army Corps of Engineers 39
Poems and Dreams 44
Missing the Boat 51
Sleeplessness 57
The Dream of the Trumpeter 64
The Dream and the Bagel 74
Seventeen Arcana from the Infinity of Dreams 78
Inside Out 87
Scrubbed Up and Sent to School 97
Interweavings: Reflections on the Role of Dream in the Making of Poems 105
Dream Song 120
The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of 129
Dream Scripts 133
Some Footnotes to My Dreams 144
Dark Dreams, Dark Sayings: Poems About Trauma 154
"Nostalgia": Dream, Memory, Poetry 162
Dreamwork, Griefwork, Poemwork 170
The Unremembered Dream 181
How My Green Silk Dreams Led to the Concept of Personal Mythology 186
One Hand on the Pen, One in the Dream 194
Remembering "Caliban Remembers" 200
A Note on Poetry and Dreams 226
A Resource of Dreaming 234
Selected Bibliography 239
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