I’m delighted to welcome writer, poetry therapist and tutor Victoria Field into the House of Dreams today. I’ve attended several of her poetry therapy workshops over the past few years, which I can highly recommend, and I always look forward to reading her blog
I have always been aware of my dreams. I still remember one from my pre-school years in which I went to watch a Punch and Judy show at the bottom of the hill where I lived. I sat on my tricycle and was both drawn and repelled by what I saw happening on the stage of the booth and feared I’d be sucked in. I’m not sure I’d ever seen Punch and Judy in real life.
It seems dreams are informed by more than direct experience. I know that on residential courses, participants report shared dreams and that when I was married, my husband and I somehow occupied the same dream space as we shared a bed. As a student, I often dreamed of tents. I loved back-packing but there was also something mysterious about my dream tents and when I recently sat in a Bedouin tent in Kuwait, it felt familiar.
Many of my poems begin with a dream image and they find their way into prose too. Several years ago, I began writing down an exceptionally vivid dream that centred around finding a white horse in my tiny kitchen in a terraced house in Chester. As I wrote, the dream took on a life of its own and eventually turned into a novella of 16,000 words recounting what happened next. The white horse can stand for many things in my life and like all dream images is mutable and outside time. Writing happens in a liminal space and to my surprise, the horse surfaced again in a comic short story.
I’m also aware that dream-work happens without our conscious mind being involved. I often tell an anecdote when people ask how I became involved in poetry therapy. My first encounter with the practice was when John Fox, an eminent practitioner based in the US gave a workshop in London in 1999. It was a two day workshop and on the second day, I felt utterly unable to keep my eyes open, in spite of being fascinated by the work. I’d had a leg injury and was on pain-killers which I blamed for my sleepiness. I excused myself and found somewhere to put my head down and went into a deep sleep for a couple of hours. I can’t recall any dreams but I woke up thinking utterly clearly, ‘I want to be a poetry therapist’. And so began my journey of the past decade and more.
So, if people fall asleep on my courses, I never object. Important work is being done as we sleep, whether we know it or not!