This bilingual collection travels between dream and reality as effortlessly as between tongues. Accompanied by spiritual companions, both human and animal, Cardona’s poetry is simultaneously rapturous and lucid.
—The London Magazine
Breathless, enrapured. —Poetry Salzburg Review
Astounding, melodious… dives into uncharted metaphysical and spiritual depths. —Recours au Poème
Unparalleled grace. —Poetry Rules
Dreaming My Animal Selves:
Le Songe de mes Âmes Animales
(Salmon Poetry, 2013)
Foreword by Brian Turner
A bilingual collection in English & French
Dreaming My Animal Selves is an intriguingly surreal journey through myth, legend, fantasy, and more – all guided by a shape-shifting narrator searching far and wide for cosmic unity within the discontinuous landscape of dream and the dreamy, fragmented quality of the everyday world. The dual-language text works to heighten the narrator’s shifting perceptions, symbol by symbol, vision by vision.
Winner of the USA Best Book Award in Poetry, the Pinnacle Book Award for Best Bilingual Poetry Book, and the Readers’ Favorite Award in Poetry. Finalist for International Book Award in Poetry and the Julie Suk Award.
Dreaming My Animal Selves was included in The London Magazine’s alternative poetry list for 2015 and in the Poetry Foundation‘s Reading List: September 2015, selected by Thomas McCarthy.
Hauntingly evocative in its mysticism, exotic and familiar, covering foreign terrain that will eventually lead us home. —The California Journal of Women Writers
I’ve worn many hats over the years: writer, actor, teacher, translator, dancer, shaman, dream analyst. The idea was to give voice to mutable selves through the prism of dreams, myth, legend and fantasy, inhabited by animals, who are a constant in my life. It’s also about identity and finding home.
Praise for Dreaming My Animal Selves
“Every force of nature has a purpose,” writes Hélène Cardona. Dreaming My Animal Selves finds its nature not in French or English, but in the correspondences between them, the experience international, liminal, mystical and other-worldly. This is a poet who writes in a rare light.
In this extraordinary volume of soul crafted poetry, words become wands to enchant and evoke our better angels.
I admire Cardona’s skillful use of form to literally enact the content of the poem. Just as the speaker exists in a constant state of becoming, so too does the poem, particularly as it is ferried from language to language, made to inhabit vastly different syntaxes and adhere to their underlying logic. In many ways, Cardona suggests a parallel between the poem and the individual self, particularly as the speaker is constructed and then reconstructed by language…By placing the same speaker within multiple literary, cultural, and sonic landscapes, she gestures at the possibility of an identity that exists apart from and beyond a specific culture, language, or politics, a thought-provoking claim that is made as much through form as it is through content. In short, this is a stunning collection, and Cardona is a poet to watch.
—Kristina Marie Darling, The Iowa Review
This is the language of transcendence, of mythological and Jungian dream analysis that allows us to perceive parts of the self that are both lost and found in symbolic language. Anyone who has grieved the loss of childhood experience, of treasured places far away, or of a loved one close to home can appreciate the sensitivity with which the poet conveys her longing to recapture these losses in art.
—Erna Cooper, World Literature Today
Cardona’s imagistic dream poems are timeless artifacts, little ‘songs of innocence’ from a primordial / universal age. Cardona’s Dreaming My animal selves is not only a poet’s spiritual awakening, but a sacred journey whereby each individual poem (or song) serves as a marker within the larger map of her inner geography, a map which, in turn, guides her through and breathes her back into her physical world with a renewed vigor.
—Marc Vincenz, The Lit Pub
The tone of these poems is often breathless, enraptured, and to borrow a phrase once used by Charles Tomlinson brilliantly to describe the poetry of Marina Tsvetaeva, ‘self-wearing’.
—Caitríona O’Reilly, Poetry Salzburg Review
This book is about consciousness, too. It is about the power of place. It is about ancestral roots. It is about the strength that grows from pursing discovery. It is all about the simple beautiful experience the reader enjoys following the enchanting lyrics and their subliminal power that carry you on a voyage from the beginning of the book to the end. Finally, one of the main themes of this book simply seems to be, to me at least, the principles of pure joyfulness. And reading these poems is a truly joyous act.
—Mark Eisner, Poetry Flash
This is shamanic poetry, poetry as magic, poetry as a gateway to the unconscious and to the dream world, liminal poetry, poetry as alchemy, poetry as healing.
—Robert Wilkinson, The Passionate Transitory
These poems shine the most and brightest when they make a case (perhaps selfishly) for their own beauty, their strange ownness. Seduced by their own rhythm and repetition, some wild images, interesting unknowns are hatched. It is a collection of poems written with a terrific sense of music.
—James Browning Kepple, Unlikely Blond
Et quel émerveillement, à travers des songes qui touchent de si près au chamanisme, que de ressentir en ces mots l’unité la plus profonde du cosmos, et cette expansion de la conscience (une conscience née, selon Jung, de l’Inconscient collectif — autrement dit, et il l’avoue à la toute fin de sa vie, du nom moderne que nous donnons à l’Âme du Monde des Anciens), cette expansion de la conscience qui permet d’accéder à la découverte vivante de cette même unité !
—Michel Cazenave, Recours au poème
To read Hélène Cardona’s poems in this book is to dream the body back to a time when it still flew feathered through air, still breathed through gills, then first slumped its heft to feel sand prick its tender and virginal flesh. The French poems printed en face serve to enhance the blurring of borders in a way that is purely Cardona–as personal as a dream–but now shared.
In Dreaming My Animal Selves the poet Hélène Cardona has become a dreamer upon two pillows of language. Taking her queue from Rilke, she has captured dreams in a diglottism of the soul, a literary isthmus of heliotrope and honeysuckle, where her singular voice endures as ‘a thistle, resilient/ rooted in Mediterranean Celtic fringe.’ Through poetry she reaches that gateway between the past and the way ahead. It was Gaston Bachelard who wrote that the roots of the grandeur of the world plunge back into a childhood and here, in her reflecting moments, Cardona reaches back to the amethyst eyes of a Francophone motherhood. Hélène Cardona gracefully travels across languages, in the manner of our own Michael Hartnett, Paddy Bushe, or, more lately, Fred Johnson, to arrive at a point of insight where we are all enriched. Dreaming My Animal Selves is a graceful skate across a liquid language, a voyage across subliminal waves; a poetry where, as she writes in ‘Parallel Keys’ she reveals herself by ‘fixing the omen.’
Here is the work of one moving from geography to geography, tongue to tongue, and into singular metaphysical experiences that change like her animal companions. In this perceptive volume, Hélène Cardona uses a speech at once imaginary, wistful, and often rapturous to tell her travel over the planet and in her mind.
Her multinational upbringing has blessed Hélène Cardona with, as Joseph Campbell would say, “a vision transcending the scope of normal human destiny, and amounting to a glimpse of the essential nature of the cosmos.” In Dreaming My Animal Selves, Hélène presents her cosmic vision through mythic identifications with animal spirits and animal morphologies.
—Rustin Larson, The Iowa Source
Hauntingly evocative in its mysticism, Dreaming My Animal Selves is part fairytale, part spiritual replenishment. Like the experience of dreaming, Cardona’s poetry feels simultaneously exotic and familiar, covering foreign terrain that will eventually lead us home.
—Karen Lively, The California Journal of Women Writers
An exploration of spirit rather than body, Dreaming My Animal Selves thrums across an everyday wilderness that transcends time, geography, history, and the physical self.
—Karli Cude, Typographical Era
This bilingual collection is imbued with such an unparalleled grace that one cannot help feeling captured by Nature’s most holy places and creatures, as in Charles Baudelaire’s Correspondances. Cardona’s translative qualities allow her to beautifully deliver in both languages, making of her a Sorceress of the Word.
—Alessandra Bava, Poetry Rules
There is the sense in Cardona’s work of a reality within dreams that human beings need to tap into, in order to live fuller lives. It is interesting that (Mary) Oliver and Cardona take separate paths to reach the same conclusion, that of the need for the wholeness of life. This happening shows astute inventiveness on the part of Cardona. In Dreamer, Cardona writes, “life needs beauty and complexity.” Yes, and she wants us to embrace both. Fortunately, her work helps show the way.
—Elvis Alves, The Compulsive Reader
All the poems are soul-searching and they enchant you with their mysticism and elegance. The surrealist feel in the poems at times makes them wistful and magical. The cosmic forces of the universe, fantasy, surrealism, dreams, and many other topics are part of the theme in the poems.
—Mamta Madhavan, Readers’ Favorite
This gorgeous bilingual poetry collection has a number of ethereally realized poems inspired by animals, landscape and dreams. Surreal, gently strange – each poem is an evocation but also an appreciation of the powerful and mercurial magic of nature in all its guises.
In each tiny but intense world, we feel the power of dreams. All is possible, there are many enigmas but the unifying thread is animal life and the possibilities of being anything other than human, if only for a short time.
—Juliana Bohanna, Wolf Print
(issue 51, spring 2014, the UK Wolf Conservation Trust)
Hélène Cardona’s poetry is full of wonder and, like all good poetry, is not bound by conventional rules of language or logic, but free as in dreams. Reading Hélène, one feels the fetters of mundane living loosening. Like Lorca, she traces oneiric patterns and pursues elusive sleep ‘in the hope to heal mishaps /the last chance to anchor my boat’.
The poems, in their alchemy and geology, are fragments of dreams, enigmas, shafts of light, part myth, and part fable.
The way the land greets her,
she enters this sacred
place called winter, elusive epiphany.
With a different face, liquid language,
she seeps into the sand in search of treasures.
—Shaman in Residence
Reviews of Dreaming My Animal Selves