The Blessings of Insomnia


Though insomnia is painful to me…

…I thoroughly enjoyed reading the poetry anthology Acquainted with the Night: Insomnia Poems, edited by Lisa Russ Spaar.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that so many poets have written about insomnia.  Poetry is a way of dreaming, so instead of sleeping and dreaming, these poets stay awake and dream through their poems.

A number of these poets actually praise insomnia—by remaining awake, they more fully appreciate how night alters reality.

Well, time does move differently at night.  Sound moves differently.  The world has a different feel.  Conscious thought blends with unconscious perception.

It’s enough to make me want to stay up through the wee hours.  However, I’m that most boring of specimens: the morning person.  My powers of creativity decrease as the night progresses.

The poets in Acquainted with the Night come from all cultures, from all eras, beginning with the 7th century B.C.E…

They include Walt Whitman:

I dream in my dream all the dreams of the
other dreamers,
And I become the other dreamers.

…Emily Bronte:

Oh, stars, and dreams, and gentle night;
Oh, night and stars return!
And hide me from the hostile light,
That does not warm, but burn…

…Sylvia Plath:

He suffers his desert pillow, sleeplessness
Stretching its fine, irritating sand in all directions.

…the 16th century Indian poet Mirabai (trans. by Andrew Schelling):

On my couch
the embroidered flowers
pierce me like thistles,
    I toss through the night.

…Robert Schultz:

The frozen ground of these perfect sheets
Is a skillet to me.

…and Rita Dove:

Night rests like a ball of fur on my tongue.

To these poets I say: I know what you mean.

© 2011, Michael R. Patton
my sky rope poetry


About Michael Patton

I am a poet, novelist, and fabulist...A new mythologist, a peace miller, a dream worker...I don't qualify as an illustrator or photographer--I just "make pictures"...I have thirteen books available at amazon... I currently reside in northwest Arkansas, but have lived and worked all over the United States... I'm self-taught, for the most part--which is like searching for the right door in the dark. It's an on-going process.... I don't want to write MY story, I want OUR story, so that's what I'm studying: the human story: past, present, future, in its many aspects--including the spiritual. I'm proceeding at a slow crawl.... I don't see the inner world and outer world as separate. By learning about myself, I learn about others, I learn about my world.... Conversely, as I struggle to understand what I see OUT THERE, I learn about myself.... But to be clear: I don't claim any special understanding. I'm still purblind, still only half-awake.... After frustrating experience with the publisher of my first novel, I've published on my own, beginning with e-books, with plans to move into print and audio. Even video.... Along with a second novel, I've now published eight books of poetry. Each poetry book focuses on a theme. For instance, the collection GLORIOUS TEDIOUS TRANSFORMATION is about the slow difficult wonderful process of change.... In that book, as with all my work, I try to be accessible to a general audience, while also striving to achieve a certain literary quality.
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