“Poetry puts language into a dream state, thereby reassuring itself of the impinging realities.” With this line, which is central not only to Durs Grünbein’s poetic project but to his aesthetics as a whole, literary critic Michael Eskin begins his introduction to the poet’s dream work. By sharing parts of his meticulous dream index, complete with notes, Grünbein remembers a multitude of dreams—of his daughters swimming out of their apartment like mermaids, of a picnic with his parents next to a bloodbath in Cameroon, of a seductive woman on a plane, of a toad with palatal eyes. “Dreams endow existence with poetic density, arming us with the impenetrability of the moment,” notes Grünbein. Gestures are the most indecipherable element in dreams—a wink of the eye can turn the whole drama in a completely new direction. The notebook “Dream Index” draws from lived experience and brings poetry back into daily life.
Durs Grünbein (*1962) is a poet, translator, and essayist living in Berlin.
Author Michael Eskin is co-founder and Vice President of Upper West Side Philosophers, Inc., New York.