If there are any prevailing themes in this little collection they might be themes of inner-crisis, the horrors of self-delusion, the arduous task of finding the authentic in a hyperreal culture, and the encountering with what Evelyn Underhill called “the Real.”
That little pronouncement plus the title of the chap itself, “Less Dream” may imply that I’m attempting to make a case for Realism but I assure the prospective reader I’m not. I tend to side with Wallace Stevens when he said in one of his aphorisms (and I’m paraphrasing): “Realism is a corruption of reality.” The Realist proposition is in my view ultimately aesthetical, a flavour of presentation and not necessarily a truer-to-life artistic mode or even philosophy.
The way I understand the Real is as an experiential quality that provides something integrative to our physical and psychic lives, something that nourishes all our parts; it is something simple and complexified all at once. In other words, the antithesis of literalism (the moron-god of the age). Less Dream therefore does not admonish the imaginative realm or punish the dream’s logic. Instead it points to the primacy of facing “head on” the sometimes playful, often demoniacal world of illusion, especially as it plays out within one’s self.
The Real lives in all good poetry, no matter the style. It causes us to feel our thoughts and imagine our sensations and yet anchors us to something we just seem to know is true, though we’re not exactly sure why. It feeds us without causing us to cling to it or to crusade for it or to turn it into some dangerous idol. At the risk of sounding completely unhip, it is a mystical proposition. Poetry for me (both reading it and writing it) has always been a refuge from the utter insanities of the mainstream world with its feckless and toxic use of language. And it has also served as a kind of sacred circle in which to explore the more destructive principles in my own battered psyche (for better or worse!).
Apart from that little diatribe I can’t say that there is anything particularly high-concept about this or any other book I’ve written to date. It’s simply the fruit of my contemplative and creative life: a little time-bound glimpse into my frustrated alienation from, but also my absolute affection for, the manifest worlds—both inner and outer.
N.W. Lea [photo credit: Genevieve Wesley] is a poet living in Whitehorse, Yukon (also, his birthplace) with his supernal partner and their wild and beautiful daughter. Find his books at invisiblepublishing.com.