In June 2014, as part of the module ‘Teaching Languages in Multilingual Contexts’ (Goldsmiths University) I attended a session called ‘Creativity in the Language Classroom’. After an initial discussion about what it meant to be creative, we briefly talked about a possible link between insomnia and creativity. Brilliant, I thought, as I’ve been an insomniac since my teenage years. So, my thought process continued, if I’m an insomniac I’m creative, right? … But before I started spending too much time reflecting on past creative achievements – I mostly came up with examples of creating ‘interesting’ but sometimes also surprisingly wonderful dishes in the kitchen – I decided to best leave it right there and concentrate again on the session. Coincidently, more or less around the same time, I came across Martina Evans‘s witty poem The Shop, which describes the longing for a small drop of sleep by a ‘thirsty‘ sleep deprived mother. Since then, whenever I find myself waking up, usually at 2 or 3 o’clock, I think back of the creativity session and Evans’s poem. So, here’s my little creation to pay homage to my many sleepless nights – past, present and future.
I know the time well before my eyes open
to glance at the two burning dials
staring back at me
at 3 o’clock on the dot.
As if for the first time I start to ponder
Where are you, god of dreams?
Why do you let me toss and turn
instead of lying still like others do?
Why do you keep my sleep so brief?
Please listen, there’s no need for such economy!
Abandoned and forgotten by Morpheus
I begin my restless routine:
First, I welcome those buzzing bees that
signal another busy night in the lead
and then the sound of the seven seas, that
foretell my lengthy journey ahead.
Noises of waves breaking and bees humming
accompany the voices in my mind, which,
at its most active and dramatic,
keeps busy digesting
events I wish to forget and stages
with clever conversations and
I cannot wait to applaud
their and-they-lived-happily-ever-after creations,
because with an endless space to fill
I sense as my only defense
that give me pleasure when they unfetter
events held captive in various grounds that
need to be covered, before
I think of stealing a drop from the sacred bottle
stocked somewhere in a visionary shop*.
When morning draws closer
I watch all that keeps me awake
riding the horses on a fast spinning
carousel and I sigh,
O what bliss! when I feel your cool finger
press lightly the invisible switch
on my hot forehead
to stop the Almighty.
And then, when I lie motionless,
I enjoy being the first witness
of the early bird’s symphony,
of the first plane pass over Beckenham,
of the first car start up in my street,
of my neighbour’s alarm at 5.30 and
of his front door slam at 6.45.
It is then when tiredness
requesting permission to enter.
O Insomnia, my ally, my companion!
You’re my visitor – I’m your host,
waiting for your call
I’m ready to listen
to the stories of my endless
*this line was inspired by the poem The Shop by Evans, M. (1998), All Alcoholics are Charmers, London: Anvil Press