MadHat Press

Wake Up and Dream by Michael Rothenberg

Wake Up and Dream fluctuates between bipolarities: diurnal consciousness and REM sleep, the self-deprecatingly personal and the politically messianic. The poet confesses to being an “effete capitalist,” made happy by something so bourgeois as wisteria in his own backyard—only to snap suddenly out of it and proclaim that “Each word I speak to my life is an affirmation … Each step I take is a determination of justice … In the fierce shadow of the marketplace / We are on our way up!” But, inevitably, despair soon swings down: “… poets have surrendered / Our craft to the totalitarian regime.” The macrocosm crumbles in on the micro, and the poet becomes drunk and unmanageable. He waxes confessional:  “Wrapped in fog / No matter where I am / There is no connection … I can’t remember / what I used to know.…” But this book is an elemental wave, after all, surfed by the momentum of poetry itself. As “The eye continues its liquid journey /  across the chemical mind,” we are exhorted to “Wake up and dream, wake up and dream …”



Praise for Wake Up and Dream

The current dangerous political moment did not arrive all at once, though for many in the U.S. it seemed so. Others had been watching for a long time, reporting directly from the home grounds of injustice, inequality, and despair. As Wake Up and Dream makes clear, Michael Rothenberg has been one of those prescient witnesses to intransigent problems that history has not been able to sweep away. Often the poems collected here express outrage at eruptions of cruelty, as they should. Often they register with dismay events in which people (literally) got away with murder. The poet is angry—as am I. And yet, truth be told, these poems are suffused not with anger but with love. And, ultimately, love is the truth they tell and hold. Read this book, aloud; read this book in silence, to yourself; read this book again, with love.
—Lyn Hejinian
“Wake Up and Dream”—so Michael Rothenberg enjoins us in this winning book.  In a dangerous time, we can look to this poet for solace, humor, and good sense.
—Aram Saroyan
Michael Rothenberg is an acrobat of the drastic mood swing, from the self-doubter’s Gethsemane to the elevated cross of the Universal Redeemer. The marvel is that his poetry, at both extremes and every point in between, maintains a perfect consistency of clarity, wisdom and wit.
—Tom Bradley
Michael Rothenberg’s poetry observes & rages, loves & despairs, gets tender, gets resigned, deals with all the emotive intermittence musically, makes big buzzing soundscapes of protest & short lyrics of dignified beauty have equal space, and looks to explore the world rather than reduce it to bites of judgment. The poems in his Wake Up and Dream strike me as written, imagined, lived, and built all at once, in time & on a remarkably human scale. They’re steeped in the emotional range and depth of an experienced consciousness working hard and long in that zone where the so-called practicality of linear representation runs into the impractical necessity of resisting that narrow take on reality by exploding it, visibly and invisibly, with ferocity and kindness.”
—Anselm Berrigan


Michael Rothenberg is a poet, editor and publisher of the online literary magazine, co-founder of 100 Thousand Poets for Change (, and co-founder of Poets In Need, a non-profit 501(c)(3), assisting poets in crisis. Born in Miami Beach, Florida in 1951, Rothenberg moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1975 and co-founded Shelldance Orchid Gardens in Pacifica, which is dedicated to the cultivation of orchids and bromeliads. While in Pacifica, he helped lead local environmental actions that stopped major coastal developments that would destroy wildlife habitat.
He has published 20 books of poetry, including Nightmare of The Violins, Favorite Songs, Man/Women (a collaboration with Joanne Kyger), Unhurried Vision, Monk Daddy, The Paris Journals, Choose, My Youth As A Train, and Murder. His most recent books of poetry include Sapodilla (Editions du Cygne–Swan World, Paris, France, 2016) and Drawing The Shade (Dos Madres Press, 2016).  Bilingual editions of Indefinite Detention: A Dog Story, and the collection of poetic journals Tally Ho and The Cowboy Dream/The Real and False Journals: Book 5 is due out from Varasek Ediciones, Madrid, Spain, in fall 2017.
His work has been published widely in literary reviews and included in anthologies such as Ecopoetry: A Contemporary American Anthology, edited by Ann Fisher-Wirth and Laura-Gray Street (Trinity University Press), 43 Poetas por Ayotzinapa, edited by Jesús González Alcántara and Moisés H. Cortés Cruz (Mexico), Saints of Hysteria, A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry, edited by David Trinidad and Denise Duhamel (Soft Skull Press), Hidden Agendas/Unreported Poetics, edited by Louis Armand (Litteraria Pragensia), and For the Time-Being: The Bootstrap Book of Poetic Journals, edited by Tyler Doherty and Tom Morgan (Bootstrap Productions).
Rothenberg’s editorial work includes several volumes in the Penguin Poets series: Overtime by Philip Whalen, As Ever by Joanne Kyger, David’s Copy by David Meltzer, and Way More West by Edward Dorn. Rothenberg is also editor of The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen, published by Wesleyan University Press (2007). 
In 2016, Rothenberg moved back to Florida. He currently lives on Lake Jackson in Tallahassee, Florida, with his partner Terri Carrion and their two dogs, Ziggy and Puma.



Wake Up and Dream
by Michael Rothenberg

$21.95, paperback, 104pp
ISBN-13:  978-1-941196-48-9


MadHat Press is a leading publisher of unique and vital contemporary poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and criticism.

MadHat Press seeks to foster the work of writers and poets: explosive, lyrical, passionate, deeply wrought voices that stretch the boundaries of language, narrative and image, vital and enduring literary voices that sing on the page as well as in the mind.

Contact Us
phone: (617) 821-1915

Mailing Address:
PO Box 422
Cheshire MA 01225