A little surprised, although not much, by some of the comments here by poets discounting the value or relevance of dreams. People dream differently, but the psyche is communicating to your conscious part, using symbols, signs, images, metaphors, language, triggers, cues, etc. intended for YOU to hear/see/feel and understand. Your dreams aren't failing you, you're not paying close enough attention. Pay better attention, you'll get more useful dreams. Or at least they'll seem more useful because you're paying attention.
There's a number of theories and techniques of how to interpret dreams. I lean Jungian. It's what makes sense/feels right to me. Freudian always seemed like a groundbreaking beginning, but woefully lacking and incomplete.
I keep a detailed, searchable database of dreams, with tags. It's a private, unlinked, password-protected blog that only I have access to. It helps me become aware of patterns and progressions that I would likely miss if I just typed out or wrote my dreams. It helps me make sense of what things and people represent in my dreams.
Most tagged item: poets (152), 2nd: books (61), 3rd: driving (58), 4th: St. Agnes Lane - childhood street (53), 5th: father (50)
My grandfather always discouraged me from remembering my dreams. He said dreams were the brain's garbage and that we should consider anything dreamed to be something that needs to be purged.
I don't believe in "brain garbage." I believe there are many things we don't understand, things that frighten and disturb us, things we very much want to deny or not think about. If your psyche doesn't want you to consider something, why try to bring it to your attention?
When I was in the hospital with Gideon a couple weeks ago, I was surprised that I wasn't having hospital or Gideon dreams there or immediately afterwards. Why am I dreaming about ________? It felt totally unconnected. I discussed a few of my dreams at length with a friend. It became clear the dreams were showing my mental state at the time, all the feelings the event brought up and retriggered, dormant feelings. The dreams were showing some more far reaching implications. There was no need for my psyche to point out where I was or that I was worried about my son. I was already quite conscious of that.
Sometimes I go back to older dreams that I didn't understand at the time to see if they now make sense. Sometimes I see a lot of missed messages.
Sometimes I feel like talking about dreams is like talking about religion. You have to believe. You can lead some to the "light" -- but the rest see you as an annoying Jesus freak, they want nothing more than to get the hell away from you.
But seriously poets, no matter what your school, style or method, no matter if you write from within or take in your surroundings, where the hell do you think your poems are coming from?
The same place that makes your dreams.