thechapbookreview

Six Recurring Dreams, Reviewed by Christina Hall

sixrecurringdreamsSix Recurring Dreams

MRB Chelko
sunnyoutside, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-934513-16-3
Paperbound, 6 pages

Reviewed by Christina Hall

In a publication with only six pages, and not one containing more than twenty-five words, everything matters: the words used, the ones that aren’t, the page count (why six? why not five, a basic counting unit, or even seven, like the number of days?), it’s publication style. Chelko’s Six Recurring Dreams is a small book—folded paper bound with thread. It’s light, easily misplaced, much like a dream. And while an easy read, it isn’t necessarily a quick read. Or perhaps it is a quick read without being an easy read. The sentences are straightforward, and to reiterate, each poem is brief, but this piece of literature does what any true work of art should: it makes you think.

The words and images stay with you. I’ve read them as poetry, and I’ve read them as prose. Quickly, slowly, silently, loudly. Each page expresses so much more than twenty-five words normally could. The text entreats you to break it down and explore it, and as dreams often do, these texts beg for psychoanalysis. I’ll simply use one of Chelko’s intriguing dreams as an example (Ironically, the review as it currently stands is almost twice as long as the text.):

I am running, fast as in a silent film,
Into the street where there is no procession.
No parade.

He starts out “running,” running in excitement or fear we don’t initially know, but the following phrase, “as in a silent film,” brings so much imagery to the scene. Devoid of any sounds of nature or people, everything submerged in black and white, I imagine the narrator running into an empty street, colorless, a void. Loneliness. And you wonder about what the narrator does not tell us; for instance, why would he expect a parade in the first place?

Chelko has an unusual talent for saying a lot with few words. Imagine explaining a dream to someone, searching for words, details, and emotions to evoke in them the same surreal sequences and strange feelings you encountered during sleep. But in one or two sentences Chelko conveys the imagery and tone of an entire dream. Publishing your own dreams could be a narcissistic move, but Chelko has written poetry, an insight into intra- and interpersonal relationships in general. His short text is well worth the read, and will leave you thinking long after you’ve turned the last page.

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