Red Wolf Editions Fall 2021
Theme: My Dream of You
I came upon her on a full moon, her breath coming and going as she laid in the sand. She had been playing her mandolin before falling asleep, a jug of water on hand. I tried to put a paw on her—she sleeps lightly as a feather does she—but she merely shifted her weight and slept more deeply.
Oh yes, Shakespeare did say, “Perchance to sleep, to dream.” In Henri Rosseau’s The Sleeping Gypsy, a lion comes into the woman’s dream. It does not attack her. I have myself dreamt of wild animals, like tigers and elephants and hippopotamuses. They come at me often in water, a figment of the imagination invoking fear, and then they do not attack. Often dreams are surreal and only make sense within the dream itself. While one dreams one believes. When one awakes, it’s utterly unreal. Often the dream mines the unconscious, of our fears and longings.
In the painting Rosseau depicts the woman’s dream. But is he in fact the dreamer, creating the art we see? It’s all in his mind’s eye isn’t it? So it is for those who write. Haruki Murakami said “writing itself is like dreaming. When I write, I can dream intentionally”. But unlike a dream which poofs into nothing on awakening, the writer can continue the dream by continuing to write the story, or making up a new story. A dream is exactly like a story.
Dreams are like portals to another world. That’s how the surrealism presents in Murakami’s stories but not as a literal dreaming but what’s happening feels all real. His characters enters a portal, in the form of a well (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle) or an underground subway route (IQ84) and so on. “So, in my stories, if you go down to the bottom of the well, there’s another world. And you can’t necessarily tell the difference between this side and the other side.” His characters typically learn some difficult truths after coming back to this side.
The plot device of other parallel universes is evident in stories like in the Harry Potter stories or The Chronicles of Narnia. So it is that poems, as stories, may also function as portals to other worlds, the point of which is an attempt to uncover the mysteries of humanity. It triggers an awakening. One transcends time and space when one steps into stories. And doesn’t one bring something back afterward? In writing and reading, as in dreaming, we ourselves are immersed in a different time and space, in a completely different narrative. We are imagining other worlds.
I want to ask you, what is this dream, this imagining, about which you as a poet writes? Is it a longing? Is it a dream of you? Who is this you? Answer me that. A loved one, a ghost? Even if the you is not named, is often amorphous, a relationship is being set up. Is it a loss of something, someone, and a desire, a dream to recover it, or the connection, in a poem? I think it is often about that too. Is it a dream of some better future, some better self? Like in this poem by Langston Hughes.
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
But the meaning has shifted. Dreams shift our reality. This type of dreaming is not a literal one but more symbolic? A mindset? In which case, dreams are not to be dissed, well in this sense of the word. As you imagine, imagination opens the door to dreaming, and dreaming opens the door to the imagination. A door to riches, to happiness can happen in dreams, as we shift our mindset. I was mesmerised by the ending of JD Salinger’s The Catcher In The Rye, when Holden was just watching Phoebe going round and round on a carousel. I think on a deep dreaming level, happiness happens.
I was damn near bawling, I felt so damn happy, if you want to know the truth. I don’t know why. It was just that she looked so damn nice, the way she kept going around and around, in her blue coat and all. God, I wish you could’ve been there.
Then there’s a type of dream that interests me—the one of God. Our dream of God as it were. The God that lives within our imagination.
If God exists he isn’t just
butter and good luck.
He’s also the tick that
killed my wonderful dog
Said the river: imagine
everything you can
imagine, then keep on
—Mary Oliver, “At the River Clarion”
Importantly the linchpin of our belief system gives us the meaning of our existence. I want to believe God’s dream of us, God dreaming us into being. What do you make of your own life? Do you believe the path you have been put on is not an accident but a destiny? Who put you there? Chance? God? I was watching The Last Kingdom on Netflix and was transfixed by the path of Uhtred of Bebbanburg. Born a Saxon but brought up by Danes, he was a warrior who had fought many battles in support of King Alfred of Wessex, whose dream was of England. He believes that “the truth of a man lies not in the land of his birth, but in his heart”. In his path of unpredictable twists and turns, where demands were constantly being made, he responded and acted according to his heart and a sense of calling, and concluded that “destiny is all”.
Even so we need to imagine for ourselves what we wish to do in this world, how we find ourselves to be, and change path as chance or God will have us. We do not see what is coming. We need to imagine, to keep on dreaming, to become who we are, to finally be at peace with who we are. We will dream till the cows come home. While I sleep, my dream of you has not ended.
Read our submission guidelines here. Please check back on our site to see if your poem has been selected. We will not be sending out any acceptance or rejection letters.
Submissions period: 1 March 2021 to 27 August 2021. Selected poems will be posted on this site and compiled into a PDF release in Fall 2021.
Fall 2021 Issue