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.

***

https://thefridayinfluence.wordpress.com/

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

Poem by Hannah S. Wiseheart

June 1907
                                                  For Phebe Durham Patterson 1871-1909
 
 
She sits rocking by her open gauze-framed window,
looking into summer night,
her head tilted, listening,
for her theatre of dreams, longing for lighter lungs.
In her white lap of soft worn muslin, a hairbrush.
She picks it up and begins,
strokes from scalp to ends trailing the floor.
Outside, tiny blinking fireflies and constant sister moon
float in darkness,
illuminating garden and fields beyond.
Her sightline is distant, even at dusk,
following a starlit stream, water sounds feeding her ears.
She sighs a faint smile, remembering herself as a light young thing.
 
Her small son pads in, pauses, whispers “Mama?” bringing her back.
.
She sighs a faint smile, remembering herself as a light young thing,
following a starlit stream, water sounds feeding her ears,
her sightline distant, even in at dusk,
illuminating garden and fields beyond.
Floating in darkness,
outside tiny blinking fireflies and constant sister moon.
Her strokes from scalp to ends trailing the floor,
she begins, picking up a hairbrush from a soft lap of white worn muslin,
longing for her theatre of dreams, for lighter lungs,
her head tilted, listening.
Looking into summer night,
she sits rocking by her open gauze-framed window….…
 
© Hannah S Wiseheart,  January 2017
 
This poem introduces the forthcoming book by the same author:
Looking for Phebe: Uncovering a Nineteenth Century Woman’s Hidden life
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Three New Poems by Kenneth P. Gurney

Silver

A cigarette flicked at responsibility
from a passing car window
skids across the roadside sand and gravel
to come to rest upon the slope of an ant hill,
not far from my booted foot
and the dry buffalo grass 
that creates wind-driven whorls
around a faceless quarter
without a band of lesser metal
visible from a sideways angle.

***

Just Thinking

If all the people of the world died overnight,
all the American buffalo left in the world
would have to relearn how to be true buffalo
and how to migrate north to south and south to north
along the great plains that would eventually return to grass
from fields of modern wheat and corn.
That is if the American buffalo ever figured out 
that they do not belong all year in mountainous places 
like the Tetons and Yellowstone.

Maybe they have some ancestral memory 
locked behind those thick skulls
of grazing along the Delaware river
and by the gulf in the Florida panhandle.

***

Equal Rights

Leon dreams John Wayne shooting him
through the head
at eight hundred and seventy two yards
with a Henry rifle—
not a Winchester,
not a Spencer,
not a Sharps.

Only John Wayne in a Hollywood movie
could make that shot.

Last night it was Humphrey Bogart
with a snub nose thirty-eight,
up close and personal
to liberate an encaged black bird.

The night before that, Errol Flynn
on the Santa Fe Trail
on horse back, at a full gallop,
with a Colt revolver.

Leon prefers his death dream
bullet passing through his skull
to be fired by some anonymous source,
not his black and white Hollywood heroes
garnered from too many hours 
watching Turner Classic Movies
with a twelve pack and two bags of chips.

Maybe tonight it will be sharpshooting Annie Oakley
as played by Barbara Stanwyck
who splatters his brains across Buffalo Bill’s
Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders.

Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, NM, USA with his beloved Dianne. His latest collection of poems is Stump Speech (2015). He started up the poetry blog Watermelon Isotope. His personal website is at kpgurney.me.

Post-Truth by Megan Baldrige

Post-Truth by Megan Baldrige
 
 
The Truth went out for a long walk,
after the humidity
of two presidential conventions
exhausted her.
She got lost in a Florida suburb,
evaded alligators,
almost didn’t make it home ,
safely.
 
But return she did,
unrecognizable.
Was it the slight Russian accent?
The shades that shielded
her bruises from our inquiring eyes?                                                                                                 Was she the victim of the brawl
or was she the vanquisher, the bully?
No one knows.
 
We could see her beauty had faded:
graying skin,
hair tinted orange,
peeling nose–from new sunburns,
new earphones pulled tightly over her ears,
so she couldn’t hear
the swirling cacophony
surrounding her.
 
 
No one wants to take selfies
with the Truth,
anymore.
She so lifeless–
even her former friends
refuse to recognize
the Truth.
They’ve renamed her: Post-Truth.
 

Poetic Process by Miriam Sagan

Poetic process isn’t always easy to engage with, no matter how long you’ve been writing. Mine changed in startling and unlooked for ways in the past year—and surprisingly it took me quite a while to notice.
Last October I was at Wildacres in the Smokies, working with my daughter Isabel Winson-Sagan. She taught me to do suminagashi—Japanese style marbling, which works as a kind of mono print of ink on water. In the week there, we worked at full throttle. I wore all the poems that appear in our collaborative book Spilled Ink.
Then, I didn’t write another poem for five months. This is unusual, as I try to write about 8 poems a month—even if they are bad, or off the cuff haiku that don’t quite work. I like to keep warmed up.
Instead, I was working on a novel, The Future Tense of River, entranced by the fun and difficulty of getting the first draft underway. I started another project, 100 CUPS OF COFFEE, a mix of poetry and prose, but the poetry was diary-like, not meant to stand alone.
In the spring, I had a horrifying “oops” moment. I wasn’t writing poetry. I was as startled as if I’d suddenly realized I hadn’t brushed my teeth in five months.
Experience has taught me not to panic about writing, so I figured—hey, just write some poems. I started, and these poems were really different. They were long and skinny (a form I’d been soundly criticized for as a Freshman in college and have avoided since.) They had no capital letters—something I usually think ill of. And they had very little punctuation. This last bit I’ve had to re-think, as editors keep asking for it.
They feel fast, impressionist, associative. They need one solid pass or draft. If that doesn’t work, they don’t seem revisable, I just throw them out. I can do detail edit, but the shape is fixed for good or ill by the first draft.
It’s kind of scary, but they seem to work just like mono printing or suminagashi.
I don’t know what to call them, but I’m writing a lot. And publishing. Editors seem to really like them, and most acceptances are coming in batches. Sometimes the poems cluster, or seem to make one larger poem. They might be a sequence, a book, or something else completely.

Here is an excerpt from a group just published in Apricity—a lovely e-zine.

the red neon SANTA FE
on the top of the Gothic Revival
railway building
across from my hotel room
on a rainy night in
Amarillo, Texas—
my love for you is pure,
an unusual
thing in this world,
and I’m perfectly happy
with you in my bed,
and although
the news of another poet’s
fame made me jealous
I count myself lucky
to not be translating
out of my native tongue.

Check out the rest at http://www.apricitymagazine.com/literary-submissions-1/2016/10/15/untitled?rq=Miriam%20Sagan

And do explore the magazine—http://www.apricitymagazine.com/. They are reading submissions and emphasize the visual arts, as you can see here:

1

3 Questions for Theresa Senato Edwards

INTERVIEW
Theresa Senato Edwards, MA, MFA

1.

1. What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.

The poetic line helps me hear the music of the poem, share a particular phrasing—like in a musical piece—showing where the poem needs to rise or resolve, be quick or slow, where it needs to hold its breath or breathe.  The poetic line can be very freeing, especially when risks are taken, using enjambment, caesura, and white space.  But it can also be strict, helping structure the progression of the poem.  It is an important, even sometimes unpredictable, thread of a poem for me. 



2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your writing and your body?

I absolutely do find a relationship between writing and the human body.  In my most recent manuscript “Wing Bones,” I maneuver in and out of the concept of genetics, how addiction can take hold of generations, and how obsession can help build or destroy the body.  My first book Voices Through Skin devotes an entire section on the body.  And my other books also connect in some way or ways to the real and surreal idea of body—living or dead (The Music of Hands), natural or supernatural, even though each book has its own poetic style and content: full-length or chapbook poem collection, poem/art collaboration in response to the Holocaust (Painting Czeslawa Kwoka), or long poem fictional narrative (Green).  The idea of the body is fluid in much, although not all, of my work.


3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?

What has become so disheartening for me being a poet is the publishing world.  The poetry field is very competitive and very subjective; so although many great poets’ work is being shared, there are many potentially influential poets’ work that is not being published, recognized, and/or read at all.  I know this is true in most industries, especially in the arts.  And, I guess, I wish this would change.  The world could use more creative, poetic/artistic truths and insights to help generate a more lasting, universal understanding and peace.  


Bio
Theresa Senato Edwards’ poetry books include Voices Through Skin, (Sibling Rivalry Press), a poem from this book entitled “Her Rituals” was a poetry finalist for the OCD Foundation’s Dare to Believe Contest; Painting Czeslawa Kwoka ~ Honoring Children of the Holocaust, a full-color collaboration with Painter, Lori Schreiner (unbound CONTENT), which won the Tacenda Literary Award for Best Book; and two chapbooks: The Music of Hands (Webbook, Seven CirclePress; print edition, self-published); and Green (republish Finishing Press; first published by Another New Calligraphy). Excerpts from Edwards’ manuscript in progress, “Wing Bones,” can be found in Gargoyle Magazine and online at The Nervous Breakdown, Hermeneutic Chaos Journal, and Amethyst Arsenic.  Edwards was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and received a writing residency from Drop Forge & Tool.  Her website: http://www.tsenatoedwards.wixsite.com/tsenatoedwards
Excerpt from her long narrative poem “Wing Bones,” the title poem of her new manuscript.

Middle Child
2A.
 
When you had breast cancer, she called you regularly
the only time
you knew she’d call
 
like children’s
tin-can conversation
 
she saved mother’s thickest bluest yarn, put the knitting bag
of memories in the right-triangle closet under the steps,
found that one blue vein that mothers saved for daughters
 
through death, your mother tightened the string,
 
a story’s presence in the metal—
            
2B.
 
and when she walks into your wake,
she already knows what is on the brink of being gone

 

Haiku From Now: Anything you want to share about your haiku process?

I wrote about a dozen haiku in my purse notebook. Then decided to work on about half. I’ve got one I really like:

I’m always early
and the mountains
are always there

Then there are a few, a bit more like senryu, that seem to catch the passing scene:

plagued by bears
somehow you also
set up bee hives

***

at the flea market
old Indian beadwork
seems saddest

***

dog bumps my leg,
owner’s eyes scold
not him but me

***

I’m not sure if this one is too abstract, or can be grouped with those above.

the desire to
compare this quilt to something—
or to touch it

I had a few others I was going to post with the question—-do these work?—-but then I realized they really didn’t! I notice that some of my haiku are just too private or repetitious—-sure, I’m really really thinking about whatever it is, but it isn’t a poem.

Anything you want to share about your haiku process?

img_2017
Art Quilt, Westcliff, CO