Readings: poetry for insomnia

I have been reading a lot of poetry lately. In the middle of the night. It sounds quite… poetic, but the real deal is that I am currently having a particularly annoying type of insomnia that leaves me awake from approximately 2 am to approximately 4 am. It is sometimes work-induced (and at this time of the year, mostly work-induced), or sometimes it’s just a matter of brain not shutting down properly. Insomnia happens very rarely to me, which is why I have absolutely no idea how to deal with it. One way I’ve been dealing with it is giving up, turning on the light, and reading a random poetry book I had strategically placed on my bed, because reading poetry in a strange insomniac yet not quite awake state seems like a great plan at 2 am. Plus, I don’t have to remember where I stopped last time this happened.

tributariesThe last book of poetry I finished around 3 am on a night like that was Tributaries by Laura Da’. For this collection it perhaps matters more where you stopped last time, because Tributaries consists of interconnected sections, all having to do with Shawnee history and identity. I find that poetry, like no other genre, can tell me about experiences of people and groups to which I do not belong. Part of the reason I started reading poetry this year is because it gave me a glimpse into lives of others in a different and more striking way than prose or non-fiction.

My current bed poetry book is Amy Gerstler’s Scattered At Sea. It’s giving me the same intense and visceral feeling as Patricia Lockwood’s Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals. Next up is Manifestation Wolverine by Ray Young Bear, which should tie me over for a while since it’s far from slim.



  1. It is a pretty cover.

    My problem is “ugh, why do I have to sleep”, but on the rare night when I can’t sleep, I give in and read, too. Never thought about turning to poetry for that but I love that you’ve noticed that it does a better job of sharing experiences with outsiders. I never thought of it like that

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