Are You An Introvert or An Extrovert–In Your Poetry?

I’ve read José Angel Araguz for what is now many years–and his essay below asks a fascinating question. Emily Dickinson would be the classic introvert, particularly compared to Walt Whitman. But what about you and me? I’m a sociable introvert. But I think my poetry is usually extroverted. Fun to think about.

What’s Poetry Got to Do With It?: Introversion/Extraversion

musings by José Angel Araguz

Episode 7: Introversion/Extraversion

In this episode I explore ways that the terms introversion and extraversion can be used as a lens with which to read poems.
The Introvert/Extravert Lens
The terms introversion and extraversion were first significantly put into use by Carl Jung and later popularized by personality tests such as the Myers-Briggs Type indicator. From there, popular culture has redefined the terms over time. In general, an introvert is someone who is more reserved and leans toward solitary behavior, while an extravert is seen as someone who is outgoing, talkative, and energetic. As with any set of categories, the terms are not strict; rather, it is best to consider them as making up two sides of a spectrum on which everyone exists leaning one way or another to varying degrees.
One of the things that helped clear this up for me was seeing how the terms played out in regards to recharging one’s energy. If at the end of the week, you look forward to going out and socializing, and actually come back from said outing recharged, you might be an extravert. Conversely, if you go out on the same outing and come back exhausted, no more recharged than when you started, you might be an introvert. Seeing my introverted tendencies as me meeting my needs (and not necessarily my being antisocial) did worlds for my understanding of myself as an introvert. It also helped me empathize with my more extraverted friends and see them as meeting their own needs as well.
For further clarification (and fun!), Buzzfeed has several quizzes and lists that can help you find out if you are more introverted or extroverted.
Inner & Outer Worlds
To return to Jung, his original concept of the terms had him regarding people as either focused on their inner worlds and thoughts (introverts) at the expense of losing touch with their surroundings, or focused on the external world and being active in it (extraverts) at the expense of losing touch with themselves.
One poet whose work reflects the complexity of the introvert-extravert/inner-outer world spectrum is Emily Dickinson. Due to having lived a life of isolation, Dickinson is often written off as an introvert. Lines like the following would in fact help make the case:
The Brain—is wider than the Sky—
For—put them side by side—
The one the other will contain
With ease—and You—beside—
The draw of these lines is how they take concrete things (brain, sky) and push them for the abstract meanings they imply. While on the surface the poem appears to be making a case for mind over matter, so to speak, a deeper reading shows something more akin to mind within matter. In one stanza, Dickinson does the poetic equivalent of pulling apart two strong magnets to show what lives between them.
In another poem, Dickinson does a reversal of these moves:
A sepal, petal, and a thorn
Upon a common summer’s morn—
A flask of Dew—A Bee or two—
A Breeze—a caper in the trees—
And I’m a Rose!
Here, the poem travels from the abstract act of naming physical things to the speaker announcing/becoming a rose. A sign of the transformation begins early in the second line in the form of sound, specifically the “z” sound (summer’s, breeze, trees, rose). As the poem develops, this sound travels parallel to the transformation implied in the words, and becomes its own physical presence, especially if read aloud.
In these two poems, one can see how the inner and outer world engage and impel one another, never cancelling each other out. In a similar way, one’s introversion never cancels out extraverted tendencies and needs.
Final Thoughts
Usually my introverted tendencies would have me continue with examples, ruminating over other poems and unpacking what I find there. I am going to push myself to look outward, however, and invite readers to share their thoughts in the comments regarding introversion and extraversion. I also encourage you to, in your writing, push past whatever type you see yourself leaning towards. If you write mainly about inner impressions, take a walk or describe the physical world around you. If you write mainly about the physical world, start with rhetoric or abstract thought. In either case, you might find yourself reflecting your true nature in a new and surprising way.

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https://thefridayinfluence.wordpress.com/

http://www.cincinnatireview.com/blog/whats-poetry-got-to-do-with-it/whats-poetry-got-to-do-with-it-introversionextraversion/

What To Write About…

Well, it’s pouring rain! I’m in the public library trying to dry my socks. Reminds me of my sodden undergrad days.

a four thousand year old
raindrop
pure no longer
but still
clear
hanging from the thorn
of a pink rose bush
tainted by time, by us
like a city tower
rising in smog
like truth
in a fog bank
of lies
it trembles
about to
fall
to seep
into the earth
rainwater
warmed by the heat
of the planet itself
bubbling back
to the surface
where I will float
having paid
my bath fee
and be sustained
by it and its multitude
of sisters

I’m trying to do voices of the four elements–two times each. Water is pretty easy here, and I’m having trouble with fire. More anon!

Magical Steam Everywhere

steam soft
from the earth’s
fountain
spring’s first
colors
pink and yellow
swirls
of a fossil dream
remembered…
forsythia
the ferns of the grotto
called
maiden hair, brittle, resurrection,
the worry
of winter without snow,
the geisha’s sleeve
the good time girl’s beaded fringe
sways and swings
with the gentle air
a tale
you came in on
the middle of…

In The Crystal Earth: Poem by Miriam Sagan

in the crystal earth
perfection
not found above

beneath the chert
pale flowering trees
rainy spring

cold, edged
hung above
each chakra

on a body
constellated
like the stars

what did you wish
upon
and what did you wish

for someone to love
something to read
or—to be gone

to heal
you will descend
and still, grow old

this cavern
reflects itself
is its own treasure

remains always here
illuminated
beneath this earth.

Torah Portion: Pantoum by Miriam Sagan

Torah Portion

ark on the high seas
shaman down the well
mother of my mothers says
“give me children or I will die”

shaman down the well
digs and wolves might mate again
“give me children or I will die”
on a bloodstained cloak

digs and wolves might mate again
you didn’t know who you were
on a bloodstained cloak
or in what part of the story

you didn’t know who you were
between oasis and desert
or in what part of the story
a raven, or a dove

between oasis and desert
mother of my mothers says
“a raven, or a dove?”
ark on the high seas.

Bipolar: Pantoum by Matt Lewis

Scattered thoughts dot my mind
Random urges that push and pull
Twisting and turning, tangled threads
Jumbled knots that leave me stymied

Random urges that push and pull
Frustrated attempts to organize
Jumbled knots that leave me stymied
Picking away at my sanity

Frustrated attempts to organize
Thoughts that race to and fro
Picking away at my sanity
Sabotaging my happiness

Thoughts that race to and fro
Battering my soul with their constant chatter
Sabotaging my happiness
Pushing me to the edge of the abyss

Battering my soul with their constant chatter
I just want them to stop
Pushing me to the edge of the abyss
Clouding my judgement

I just want them to stop
Peace, please, anything but this constant noise
Clouding my judgement
Blessings tired to curses

Anything but this constant noise
I can’t believe I ever longer for this
Blessings tired to curses
Creativity’s bastard brother on speed

I can’t believe I ever longer for this
I longer for inspiration
Creativity’s bastard brother on speed
Any idea to get the juices flowing

I longer for inspiration
My mind turn to mud
Any idea to get the juices flowing
Pull me from this quagmire

My mind is mud
Sinking, spiraling thoughts
Pull me from this quagmire
And keep me from obsession

Sinking, spiraling thoughts
Drain the happiness from life
Keep me from obsession
Lest my head slips below the surface

Drain the happiness from my life
Clear away the fog
Lest my head slips below the surface
Plant my feet and fight back

Clear away the fog
Search for inspiration
Plant my feet and fight back
Against the sucking morass beneath

Search for inspiration
Anything to strike a spark
Against the sucking morass beneath
Free the wings to fly

Anything to strike a spark
Updrafts that fill my soul
Free the wings to fly
And soar among the clouds of creativity

Updrafts that fill my soul
Twisting, turning, tangles
Soar among the clouds of creativity
Random urges begin to push and pull.

Tideline by Miriam Sagan

Just up at https://formerpeople.wordpress.com/2017/02/12/a-poem-2/

tideline
of the day’s
detritus—sea urchin
skate egg sac, glassie
plastic bottle, red seagull
it was no
hurricane
that hung everything
from the ceiling
of the house
lawn chair, garlic braid,
the crumpled volumes
of calendars,
heft of pollen, butterfly wing
this was the inversion
of dream
like fog
over an insignificant
industrial city
like thinking you see a message
written in the rainy street
by the traffic light
hoping—right or not—
that god’s hand will spare us.