“My dream is made in my body.”
- Eugene Gendlin, Let Your Body Interpret Your Dreams
I first discovered the relationship between poetry, dreams, and the body in the process of writing my book, Iron Man Family Outing. In fact, the book was the direct result of my exploration of that relationship. I was having a lot of important dreams at the time, filled with detail and information that required my attention and action, and I was finding it harder and harder to get everything down in my journals each morning. One day I got the idea that maybe I could record my dreams more concisely as poetry rather than as prose, and it worked pretty well for me. So well, in fact, that after a few months, I found that I was writing a book … a book with a title that came to me in one of my dreams.
I was also, at that time, coming into a new form of relationship with my body. I’d been treating my body like a mechanism for most of my life, a strange and mysterious other that felt external and separate from what I thought of as myself, an unreliable machine that suffered from all sorts of inconvenient problems and breakdowns that no doctor I’d seen could explain. I know now that this sort of separation and dissociation from the body is very common among men and boys in my culture. I also know now that it’s common to another demographic group of which I am also a member: adult survivors of childhood abuse.
Somehow, and I honestly can’t say how this came about, I found that my body was, like my dreams, another rich source of imagery and information that expressed itself well in poetic language. I believe this discovery was largely stimulated by the emotional processing work I was doing at the time, in which I was taught to tune into my body as a way to locate and unlock the psychological and emotional energy I’d been forced to repress as a child. As time went on, I gradually began to see my body as a partner rather than as an adversary. I also found that my body had something to say. I only had to give it the time and the space to speak.
In a poem called “body memory” from Iron Man Family Outing, I said:
time passes but nothing is lost
I can’t fool myself
my body remembers everything.
Poetry is the language of my dreams and my body. In my experience, in life and as well as in writing, poetry, dreams, and the body are intertwined and inseparable.
Photo credit: David Jewell. Used by permission.
Poetry, dreams, and the body by Rick Belden, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.