Night Thoughts: 70 Dream Poems & Notes from an Analysis

Sarah Arvio. Knopf, $26.95 (188p) ISBN 978-0-307-95955-3
This raw and affecting third collection from Arvio (Sono: Cantos) is really two brief books in one. First, unrhymed sonnets in plain yet vivid language describe a series of Arvio’s dreams; second, the poet recalls the childhood troubles that she came to understand through psychoanalysis, in prose that annotates the sonnets but reads like a journal. The sonnets combine the immediacy of memory with the insistent symbolism of dreams; in one “I’m sloughing something but what I don’t know/ out of the sea dream out of the deep self.” Blood, blades, snakes, beds, and other totemic items invite us to interpret, as Arvio later does: “a black slip with a lace decolletage” becomes “the black slip in which I’ll die.” These sonnets give up more of their secrets in the prose, where many clues point back to sexual trauma that neighborhood boys inflicted on the poet before her teens. At one point in the analysis came “the first time I had the sense that there was more to know about my suffering and that I might be able to find it.” Some readers may find themselves put off by the conventions of psychoanalytic interpretation; others may read Arvio’ s serious discoveries for insight both into the poet, and into themselves. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/26/2013
Release date: 01/01/2013
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 171 pages - 978-0-375-71222-7
Open Ebook - 137 pages - 978-0-307-95956-0
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