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In this remarkable and unique work, award-winning poet Sarah Arvio gives us a memoir about coming to terms with a life in crisis through the study of dreams.
As a young woman, threatened by disturbing visions, Arvio went into psychoanalysis to save herself. The result is a riveting sequence of dream poems, followed by “Notes.” The poems, in the form of irregular sonnets, describe her dreamworld: a realm of beauty and terror emblazoned with recurring colors and images—gold, blood red, robin’s-egg blue, snakes, swarms of razors, suitcases, playing cards, a catwalk. The Notes, also exquisitely readable, unfold the meaning of the dreams—as told to her analyst—and recount the enlightening and sometimes harrowing process of unlocking memories, starting with the diaries she burned to make herself forget. Arvio’s explorations lead her back to her younger self—and to a life-changing understanding that will fascinate readers.
An utterly original work of art and a groundbreaking portrayal of the power of dream interpretation to resolve psychic distress, this stunning book illumines the poetic logic of the dreaming mind; it also shows us, with surpassing poignancy, how tender and fragile is the mind of an adolescent girl.
"Who does not love the nighttime mind with its full disclosure, lack of censor—
metaphor, innuendo, enchantment, intensity? Sarah Arvio breaks the codes
through psychoanalysis and coverts her thoughts to poems. This is a book of
mutual discovery for the poet and reader, and most fascinating are the notes
which untangle the unapparent worlds. Among the many successes here is that
Arvio is too busy puzzling out psyche and prosody to think about moving to
sensationalism—but sensational they are—all our horror stories of guilt and
shame—memories that changed shape early on.
This book is influential because it is one of a kind. With all the books written
today, one so unique with such an alternate view of poetry is almost a game
changer in the field. There are 70 set pieces of exactly 14 lines. We know how
important consistency is to hold tumult. Discipline is essential—and well done, it
becomes admirable. Never have symbols had so many faces, but what I like is
there are no overt moral questions which would stain the search, and Arvio’s lack
of punctuation alludes to this. These are works of strong feelings ringed by
messages saying we can’t control our dreams but we can control the poem. From
the uncomfortable silence of the psyche’s tundra, Arvio wrings out her truth." —The Washington Independent Review of Books