Growing Poems And Dreams

A look at Michael Heffernan's book of poetry "At the Bureau of Divine Music."

Heffernan will read from ninth book at OPWC night

By Ginny Masullo

TFW Contributing Writer

Over green tea at the Brick House Kitchen Kafé in Nightbird Books — where Michael Heffernan will read from his ninth book of poetry, “At the Bureau of Divine Music” (Wayne State University Press, 2011) — he and I discussed writing, dreams, travel, art and life its own self.

In conversation he can hold forth facts, stories and places with the wealth of 10 brains instead of just one. Having written poetry for 50 years, Heffernan says, “I have learned to apply the art, the craft of poetry to the kind of brain I have.”

Listening to his Irish father tell long tall tales gave Heffernan the knack for story. That and 30 years of Jungian dream analysis bring to Heffernan’s poems the earthy quality of an Irish story and the ethereal quality of dream.

“The dream of a poem and having a dream both take place in adjacent parts of the brain. This does not mean,” says Heffernan, “that the poem itself is a dream. It does suggest that the poem grows out of the mind in a way that is like dreaming. The writing, however, is done in a different way.”

Heffernan has taught creative writing at the University of Arkansas since 1986 and travels as a man at home in the world. His work is humorous and full of turns that initially surprise the reader.

The weave of these poems is pitch perfect. His poems reveal places like the Temple of Heaven in China, the Parc du Ranelagh in Paris or Hudson’s department store in Detroit in a way that even the most devout couch potatoes find central to their own hearts.

Fellow poet Martha Silano writes on the book jacket that he is “like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Badlands of South Dakota … a national treasure.”

And, he is right here in Fate’ville, where he will read as the feature for the Ozark Poets and Writers Collective at 7 p.m. this Tuesday, March 29, at the Kafe in Nightbird Books on Dickson Street.

A lively open mic, with a four-minute time limit for each participant, and the Kafe’s delightful offerings of eats and drinks round out the evening for poetry lovers.

Check out Ozark Poets and Writers Collective at

Categories: Galleries
Tags: featured