Acquainted with the Night: Insomnia Poems

Front Cover
Lisa Russ Spaar
Columbia University Press, 1999 - 183 pages

It is the rare individual who has not, at one time or another, been kept awake for hours on end--as the rest of the world, maddeningly, appears to be comfortably lost in the nocturnal world of dreams.

Here is a treasury of verse on the rich subject of insomnia--meditations by poets who have sought to describe their own moments of solitude in darkness, when the world's regular bustle of activity and distraction falls away and they are left to contemplate in silence.

Acquainted with the Night brings together Emily Dickinson and Elizabeth Bishop, Rimbaud and Sappho, Shakespeare and Shelley--the great poets of the Western literary heritage--on a theme with which each one has been acutely familiar. Lisa Russ Spaar has also unearthed ruminations on the sleepless nights of poets the world over: in a fascinatingly diverse anthology, she has harvested verse from Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Inuit, Vietnamese, Tamil, Yiddish, and Romanian poets, who together present an illuminating display of insomnia's extraordinary and enduring legacy in widely different cultures through the centuries.

As these exquisite poems chart a course from solitude, through anxiety, to epiphany, the reader truly learns what it means to be acquainted with the night.



Introduction I
The Congress of the Insomniacs
How can I then return in happy plight
Relentlessly Lovelorn the NonSleeper Whispers and ReWhispers

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About the author (1999)

Lisa Russ Spaar is a lecturer in creative writing and the administrator of the M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing in the English Department at the University of Virginia. Collections of Spaar's own poetry include Blind Boy on Skates and Glass Town.

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