Tag Archives: Poetry

Q&A: Working to Understand Dreams

Q: Do you have any suggestions for how I can work to better understand the messages contained within my dreams?


Seeking Understanding

A: Dear Seeking,

Did you know that in my other life I’m a poetry teacher? Yes, I teach teen mothers, and other young adults and adults in literacy programs. My students have had a wide range of educational experiences—well, not such a wide range, really. Their experiences range along a narrow band of really bad encounters with the public school system. They have a great deal of trouble spelling some of the most basic vocabulary words, like through and maybe, and knee. And it’s my job to introduce them to the works of Rosetti and Whitman, Plath, and Poe.

I had no formal training in how to be a teacher when I first set foot in a classroom, so I stood clutching my folder of poems before a room full of teens whose babies were downstairs in the daycare, or whose pregnant bellies peeked out from of the unbuttoned waistbands of their jeans.

I decided right away to skip the whole “what do does this poem mean?” discussion. Shakespeare’s “wandering bark,” Dickinson’s “mechanical feet” going round on their “wooden way” were baffling to my students—as they were to me the first several times I read them. Instead I asked: “What does this poem make you feel?” and then “Oh, really? What in the poem makes you feel that way?” After a while I might press further: “Any idea why someone would have written about all this stuff?”

Oh, but you were asking about how to work with the messages in your dreams, right? I guess it was that word work that got me thinking about teaching, because that’s technically what I do for work. And work is hard and I don’t want to work, I want time to play and experience life. And I definitely don’t want poetry to turn into work. Poetry is mystical and mysterious and beautiful and totally accessible as long as no one asks me what it means and as long as I don’t ask anyone what it means.

So, to answer your question, Dear Seeker: Put your feet up, get yourself a drink with a paper umbrella in it. Stop working so hard. A dream isn’t something to decipher like a message tapped out in Morse Code; it’s the creative musings of your inner poet wooing you with sweet somethings.

But you want to know what it’s saying? So, listen.

Z Tell someone your dream. Your cat will do if there’s no one else around, and if there is no cat, talk your dream into the voice recorder on your phone. Let the images, the colors, the quality of the light, and the sense of movement in the dream wash over you. Notice how you feel. Which parts make you anxious? Which parts make you sigh? Where in your body do you feel it? Let yourself sink into a state of wonder. Allow your curiosity to be piqued. Marvel at the view.

Z Write the dream down, slowly. That’s another way to listen deeply. Grab some color pencils or crayons and sketch it. Wait for the message to unfurl like a morning glory opening to the sun.

Z That might be enough …. but if not … go ahead and dive into each image. Associate and amplify to your heart’s content.

 Z Find a dream group or a dream therapist. (Okay, that’s a little shameless self-promotion there, but a dream therapist has to eat, too, right?).

Z And since I am, after all, a poetry teacher…why not try writing a poem from your dream. You can find instructions elsewhere on this blog by clicking here.

Dreamily yours,



Want to learn more about your dreams? Contact me to find out about upcoming dream groups in western Massachusetts, or individual dream sessions by phone, Skype, or in person.


Filed under Q & A

Bunny Dreams: What does it mean when you dream of a pet? (CV*)

Honey Bunny

Honey Bunny

When my daughter moved away a couple of years ago, she left her bunny with me—“for a couple of weeks,” so she said at the time. And so, I have become the keeper and companion of an adorable, overfed, dwarf bunny.

I often dream of Honey Bunny (my daughter named her). I dream that she’s on the loose, or I’m chasing her through the house, or reconstructing her cage. I once dreamed another animal had come to steal her water …

When we dream of pets we are sometimes dreaming of parts of ourselves that are instinctual, or those wild parts of ourselves that have been tamed. A dream of a pet can also point to a desire for affection.

Rabbits in particular are said to represent luck, fertility, taking chances, and more.

Pets that appear in our dreams, like everything in a dream, have something unique to tell us. Perhaps the best way to find what message they have come to deliver is to ask them directly through active imagination or journaling.

Recently I spent a few moments exploring what Honey Bunny might want to show me. This is what a quick writing exercise revealed:

This Bunny

The color of lavender before it blushes

With glassy eyes that track changing light and sleepy shadows

Dreaming awake of a world without bite.

With the voice of no voice

She tells me:

Be gentle



–Tzivia Gover

[In addition to being a reflection on a dream symbol, this poem is also part of my effort to write 30 poems in November as part of Center for New America’s fundraising campaign for literacy. Click here to sponsor me and donate to a very good cause!]

To write a dream poem about your pet:

Z Imagine you are the animal.

Z Enter into an imaginary dialogue with your pet. You can focus on your pet as it appears in your dreams, or as it exists in waking life.

Z On the page, imaginatively interview your pet. Ask what it loves most, what its purpose is, what it fears most, what it desires most, and what it has come to tell you.

Z Arrange the answers to these questions into a short poem. Edit out any unnecessary words and what you are left with might just carry the essence of your pet’s nature, and the hidden gifts it has to offer you.

You can do this exercise whether or not you have dreamed of your pet. All animals have something to teach us about our selves and our place in the world.



I wonder if Honey Bunny ever dreams of me.


*Corner View is a weekly appointment each Wednesday, where bloggers from all corners of the world share their view on a pre-arranged theme. This week’s theme is PetsStart here to visit more Corner View blogs.


Filed under Dream How To's, Dream Life, Poetic Dream

Ever been kidnapped by a dreamer?

kidnap poem

(after Nikki Giovanni)

ever been kidnapped by a dreamer?

i’m a dreamer and i’m gonna kidnap you

gonna hypnotize your hypnogogic reverie

put you in my archetype, my anima, my animus

or maybe, or maybe, wrap your in moonbeams

lucid you with lullabies

snooze you to xanadu

i’ll rock you in recollection, rescue your recurrences

nightingale your nightmares

light your cigars, board your train

wake you with my love song.

yeah, I’m a dreamer.

i’m gonna kidnap you.

© 2013 Tzivia Gover


This poem represents the 3rd poem I’ve written this month in an effort to write 30 Poems in November as part of a fundraiser for immigrant literacy. To sponsor me in my Poem-a-Day challenge, please visit: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/Tzivia/30poems


Filed under Poetic Dream

Through the Looking Glass–poetically

English: Old make-up mirror. Deutsch: Alter Sc...

English: Old make-up mirror. Deutsch: Alter Schminkspiegel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This fall I participated in a Psiber Dream Conference, where dreamers from around the world presented papers and entered discussions about the extra-ordinary aspects of dreaming, from lucid dreams, to mutual dreams, remote viewing and precognitive dreams.

The theme this year was “Through the Looking Glass” and a few of the papers I read suggested looking at mirrors as portals within the dream, then entering these portals to discover other amazing worlds.

I tried for three nights in a row to find such a mirror in my dreams. I came close on several occasions, but never was able to get lucidly aware enough to actually travel through a mirror into a different dimension.

Nonetheless, I did manage to write a poem about one of my near misses. The poem turned out to be a portal of its own into other realms of thought and imagination.

Through the Looking Glass

My smile melts,

skin sags, folds,

lets go of bone

just before it disappears

into the mirrored plane

of a dream about to end.

Let me be the beauty

that hides within.

But words can’t keep pace.

A new dream begins.

© 2013 Tzivia Gover


My poem “Through the Looking Glass” represents the second poem I’ve written this month in an effort to write 30 Poems in November as part of a fundraiser for immigrant literacy. To sponsor me in my Poem-a-Day challenge, please visit: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/Tzivia/30poems


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Poetry and Dreams Make Good Bedfellows

On June 24 I led a workshop called “The Poetic Dream” at the International Association for the Study of Dreams 30th annual conference in Virginia Beach.

Dreamers spent the afternoon reading and writing poetry that came from dreams. Toward the end of our session, I asked participants to discuss what they learned in the process. Here is some of what they said:

  • Our poems and our dreams have common themes.
  • Dreams and Dream Poems offer new perspectives on life.
  • Writing Dream Poems was transformational.
  • Writing Dream Poems is fun, easy, and satisfying.
  • The process was freeing, led to greater understanding, and helped the dream poet feel seen.
  • Writing dream poems helps us communicate with ourselves and others.
  • The process was rich with the goodness of simplicity.
  • Dream Poems highlight the uniqueness of each individual.
  • The process of writing in a group fostered togetherness and helped us get to know one another better.
  • We gained insight about our dreams by writing the poems.
  • Dreams offer raw material to poets and writers
  • Dream Poetry helps us make intuitive connections

And one more thing…poets suggested that perhaps next year we make a Dream Poetry anthology filled with poems by IASD dreamers. I’m on board for that! Stay tuned for further developments.


If you want to write a dream poem, try this:

How to write a dream poem:

  1. Think of a dream you had recently, or a recurring dream.
  2. Write the dream in the present tense, as if it is happening now. Use descriptive language and strong verbs.
  3. Re-read what you’ve written. Insert line breaks and delete unnecessary words.


Write a poem in which each line begins with the words: I dream …. You can include things you dream about at night … as well as dreams you hold for your future, day dreams, etc.


If you’d like to learn more about my dreamwork practice, schedule an appointment for dreamwork, purchase a dream journal, or buy a dreamwork gift certificate for friend, visit me at Third House Moon.


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I posted recently about my experience at a dream conference about creativity and dreaming. At that conference I presented a paper about the intersections between dreaming and creative writing. I explained that dream incubation is one way to use dreams in the service of writing (or any kind of problem solving). So, last week I incubated a dream asking for help with a story I’m working on. Read on to learn what happened:

“DREAM DICTATION: Character Sketch”

She’s someone’s mother, the woman in the kitchen baking bread.

Two loaves a day, she says, and hands me a bit of golden crust.

She’s a character in the story I’m writing, one I hadn’t met before.

The protagonist’s mother, just back story, it seems. I’ll have a look around, glean

a few defining details for my prose. I see clay pots, painted, empty,

on the upper shelves. But no potted plants. Is that significant?

Her pantry is a light-filled room, painted cheerful reds

and yellows, and packed with jars and cartons: cornmeal, flour,

all the staples you’d expect to find. She’s happy in her kitchen,

effortlessly handling those cast-iron pans. I should help out, and not just stand

around. But, there’s not much I—having no flair for the domestic arts—can do.

I could help empty the dishwasher, at the very least, I muse.

But no, I’ll go home and write this down, instead.

I leave her house, and quickly lose my way. I turn back to find her place,

again—but can’t. Too late, I realize: I don’t know her address, or her name—

this character, of my creation.

© Tzivia Gover 2013

DR 5-31-13


To learn more about my dreamwork practice, schedule an appointment for dreamwork, purchase a dream journal, or buy a dreamwork gift certificate for friend, visit me at Third House Moon.


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When Dreams Blossom Into Poetry (CV: Flowers)

On Saturday I will be presenting a paper about the connection between  writing and dreaming at a conference on Creativity and Dreaming. (There’s still space available if you want to come join us!)

One of the things I’ll be discussing is how many stories and poems begin as dreams.

My dreams often get translated into poems. As this one did:

Pink Flower Dream

After years of separation

we embrace

alone on the dance floor.

Let’s go, you say

and we twirl.

Who cares what others

will say or what it means

to be dancing, again. Just swing

with the music. A man lifts

a flower from a nearby pool–

blossoms vining up the stem–

and hands it to me. You take it

to your nose. Inhale.

 Together we sit

with the flower.


from July 26, 2012 Dream Report


Corner View is a weekly appointment – each Wednesday – created by Jane, where bloggers from all corners of the world share their view on a pre-arranged theme. 


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Dreams are perfect poems

packed with symbols, puns, and perfectly


So why do we feel obliged

to edit and revise?

{by me at age 23 … March 1986 journal … and yes, I did a little bit of editing}

This is poem 19 in my 30 Poems in November Challenge. To see the rest of this month’s poems visit my other blog.

Leave a comment

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Haiku: The Earth-Friendly Poetic Form

Is one form of poetry “greener“, that is more environmentally friendly than, another? Today I will assert that Haiku is environmentally friendly poetry. Why?

  • Well, for one-thing, this form is by its very essence economical: At 3 lines, 17 syllables, nothing is wasted.
  • Also, Haiku is rooted in nature. Each poem connects us to nature and human nature.
  • And finally, and most importantly, Haiku is poetry of awareness. It demands present-moment connection with self and the natural world. I believe that the more we operate from this perspective, on the page and off, the more likely we are to behave in Earth-friendly ways.

In honor of Earth Day, I invite you to try your hand at Haiku. Oh, and don’t worry overly much about the syllable count. Aim for a short poem, in which you show (rather than tell) of a moment when you really experienced the natural world and your connection to it. And in that last line, add a little twist or surprise.

Here’s a Haiku I wrote yesterday during a workshop with Jeannie Martin, who taught a Haiku workshop at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival in Salem, Mass.

April 21, 2012 Haiku

Pink and white blossoms

puddle on the sidewalk,

springtime drought.

Wishing you all a poetic Earth Day!


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Dreaming (Like Poetry) Is Not a Luxury

1980, Austin, TX. I took it in very poor light...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The phrase, “Poetry is not a luxury,” was made famous by Audre Lorde’s 1977 essay by the same name. As a teacher who makes a career of bringing poetry into nontraditional settings, including an inspirational GED program for teen mothers, I quote Lorde often. When I apply for grants, proposals, and press releases, I argue that rather than being a luxury, poetry is a vital part of education—and not just for students in elite schools, but for everyone, including teen mothers, new immigrants who are learning English, and adults in literacy programs.

Lorde says it best in her essay, which I’ve re-read many times (thanks to the fact that I teach it to my community college English classes and I quote it in my workshops and classes about poetry for teachers).

“For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action,” Lorde writes.

What I often forget when I think about this essay, is what a strong role dreams play in her argument as well.

Lorde argues that the dominant culture (white, European, male) values logic and rationality at the expense of feelings, intuition, and the deep mystical callings of our souls. What is lost is a vital bridge – a connecting link – that moves us from the vast realms outside of our conscious, everyday awareness. That broken link separates us from our feminine power, Lorde writes. She cautions: “… we have given up the future of our worlds.”

I have long sensed that what moves us through our days is not our conscious will. Our executive function, though much lauded, is in fact weak compared with our sub-conscious tugs and currents. I’m not just talking about the Freudian id, here, but of our nighttime dreams and the deep wells of emotion.

What we dream at night might well color our actions during the day, as much as– perhaps more than–the conscious decisions we come to after making lists of pros and cons and getting the advice of trusted friends or paid advisors.

I find myself constantly having to justify my position that we must become literate in the symbolic language of dreams if we wish to achieve our full powers; our full humanity. We are better human beings when we shed our phobia of poetry, clear our minds, and let the cadence of verse wash through our beings.

Being free to write out the poetry of our inner voices, being free to hear the dream cadences of our lives, to tune into our nighttime dreams and our waking feelings, is necessary to being fully human and fully alive.

So I say it again, and with increased passion and renewed urgency: Poetry is not a luxury. And now let’s add to that: Dreams, too, are essential, vital, and central to who we are – and who we are capable of becoming.

© 2012 Tzivia Gover


To learn about my book about teaching poetry to teen mothers click here.

April is National Poetry Month! Celebrate by bringing Dreams & Poetry into your life!


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