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Welcome to Poetics! Fresh off spending a few days in New York with Claudia, Chazinator, Blue Flute and ManicDDaily, I am home once more in Lynchburg and excited to write some poetry. We have quite the treat today as well, as I asked Stu McPherson, a regular at the pub with his incredible verse, to inspire us…

Hi there. My name is Stu McPherson and I’m proud to be tending the bar at dVerse #Poetics.

Head (1948) By Francis Bacon

Today I’m asking you all to dig deep and to explore the more uncomfortable side of the human condition- Nightmares. If poetry can be considered a conscious process through which we make sense of the world, then the world of dreams and indeed nightmares is our subconscious trying to make sense of many different emotions, some of which are often not easily faced. However nightmares, as a specific ‘dream state’ can be seen as particularly appealing to the poet, as it’s within this dark world that we face our fears, our personal pains, and our pasts.

It is also worth remembering that a ‘nightmare’ does not necessarily have to happen whilst we are asleep. Indeed, it could be an emotionally powerful event that happens during our journey through everyday life. Conversely, to have ‘A Nightmare’ could be taken in an ironic sense, imbuing a life event with dark humour.

And finally, a more open take could simply be to see and write about something ‘nightmarish’- a real or fictional event that evokes strong feelings of unease or horror. From every angle- this prompt should be something that all of us can relate to, whether we are deep sleepers or not!

This crystallization of thought; albeit sometimes abstract, sometimes very tangible, is a subject matter that has pervaded the creative arts for many years. For example- take Henry Fuseli’s ‘The Nightmare’ painted in 1781 (see below)

This gothic picture (a great influence on William Blake) depicts a grim scene whereby the sleeping woman is visited by a ghoulish horses head and sat on by an Incubus. The painting has often been described as Fuseli’s metaphor for a sexual interaction, with the horse being the ‘act’ and the incubus being the ‘libido’.

From a more poetic perspective, read ‘The Childless Woman’ by Sylvia Plath (below), a horrific exploration of a woman’s infertility and its anguish caused. See the way that Plath uses metaphor to conjure a nightmarish world (the rattling womb- the blood) to the point where the words literally scream from the page

The womb

Rattles its pod, the moon

Discharges itself from the tree with nowhere to go.

My landscape is a hand with no lines,

The roads bunched to a knot,

The knot myself,

Myself the rose you achieve

This body,

This ivory

Ungodly as a child’s shriek.

Spiderlike, I spin mirrors,

Loyal to my image,

Uttering nothing but blood

Taste it, dark red!

And my forest

My funeral,

And this hill and this

Gleaming with the mouths of corpses.

And so- now I’ve got you in the mood! Here’s how to participate.

  • Write a poem about a ‘nightmare’ – This could be one you have experienced in your sleep, a situation that you found ‘nightmarish’, or simply something (real or fictional) that is nightmarish.
  • Try and explain your poem metaphorically – get across to the reader what you think it meant, or what it could mean, and most importantly- what it means to you.
  • Don’t hold back! Try and write something cathartic, something honest. Confront those feelings- I want to feel it!
  • Visualize as strongly as possible- let us see into a world that until now only you have seen, experienced, and interpreted.
  • Post your poem to your blog and then link into the group via the ‘Mr. Linky’ button below.
  • Don’t forget to tell people where you have linked your poem and encourage them to get involved and contribute!
  • Once posted please visit and read as many other poems as possible, leaving comments, and letting other writers know that their work is being read.
  • Share, share and share via all of your favourite social networking sites!