Poems

Sorry, this page will likely not bear fruit until mid 2018.

Sliced lemon
But you can have this picture of a sliced lemon instead. [Source]

Unfortunately for the reader, I’ve decided to try my luck and submit two of my poems for publication, which means I cannot publish them even on a blog. I’m sure it’s easy to get published; there are journals with 30-80% acceptance rate and websites with even higher. But I’ve decided to try submitting to a few top tier journals with under 1% acceptance rate (only a few because most of them don’t fit my poems). The most likely outcome of course is that I’ll receive all my rejections by the end of 2017 and then I can go for the more modest goal of the reputable ones with under 10% acceptance. That could take another while. If I could show them now, this is how I would have introduced them anyway:

Warning: There is nothing more personal than my poems. If you know me in person then we may both regret it if you read on…

To lay bare one’s heart in the name of art—a lot of creative people do it. I’m not a creative person (and before you tell me everyone is creative I believe I can refute that), and I feel almost irresponsible for doing so. But the truth of the matter is that I long to share my poems with anyone worthy of understanding them. I am proud of my poems and especially the craft behind them. One of these poems might even be the best creative piece I’ll ever come to write.

I do not write poems and I cannot write serious poems on demand. Poetry is my last resort for when I cannot get something off my mind for several days. As infatuation continues to prohibit all semblance of productivity, I turn to writing a poem as a desperate medicine. It seems strange, but the first time this happened to me I just knew that I had to write a poem. INTP instincts can be oddly specific sometimes.

I want to describe my writing process because I find it interesting. With essay writing, I can write in detail about any topic that doesn’t require special knowledge. Drafting an essay is not always necessary and relatively few breaks are needed for thinking. With technical writing, I have to save up ideas and sources over multiple days until I’m finally confident enough to string together something coherent. Every sentence takes a lot of effort to get right.

With writing a poem, there’s a bit in common with both of the above. I slowly draw inspiration from my mood. Before I’ve come up with a single line, I either have a poem in me or I don’t. I’m ready or I’m not ready. Once I’ve decided to start (which is when I feel too strongly to not write a poem), fragments begin to flow. They’re not in order, but my task is just to write whatever comes to mind. It’s probably a thinking process but it feels like the subconscious has done all the homework in a jumbled order. I just have to ensure I get coverage of each aspect I want to include. It takes at most two sessions to collect enough content, a typical session probably lasting no more than 20 minutes. At that point, I’ll have about 80% of the unfiltered lines of the poem and the rest as themes. I never know if it will be coherent until I rearrange the lines into an appropriate order. Crafting the flow of ideas is key and requires consideration about what I actually want to express. Somehow, this step seems a bit like solving a jigsaw puzzle. A few other steps are required to finish the poem: rewriting and rewording a few lines; incorporating new and improved ideas and lines; and fussing over two or three choices of words. All in all the process feels efficient, taking up to a few hours. Most of the original unfiltered content ends up in the final version. A few days later I might tweak one thing, but after that I’m sure of things. No more changes. A rare state of satisfaction for a perfectionist.

I usually write in free verse because it’s easier. You get to break the rules, but of course I’m always well-behaved (^_^). I should note: I write poetry for myself, but if I intend to give a poem to someone then I’m more likely to consider using formal verse.

It should be fairly obvious what my poems have in common in terms of subject matter. I’m not sure whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing that this happens to me… Let me explain the background behind this—condition—that many young and less emotionally developed INTPs experience. INTPs crave platonic love. As long as we remain naive and optimistic, we can probe and search for it in any situation, though some of us never find it. When I make a new friend, I assume they are intelligent and deserving of everything I have to offer. (I used to even assume that everyone was an INTP and couldn’t understand why the Golden Rule never worked out. The better rule is to treat others as they would like to be treated. That said, a popular alternative way of life for INTPs is to become independent and [professionally, financially, emotionally] self-sufficient and not have to deal with that “problem.”) For most people, a friend has to earn trust over time. For me, I just give them all the trust they need in advance and subtract as necessary when they prove unworthy of their current amount. INTPs are obsessive and curious creatures, and for me that shows in how I approach friendship. The following is generally what happens when I first meet someone, assuming we actually progress from loose acquaintances to friends. A similar thing happens for online friends too. At the start, I’m very curious. Like a child but with more focused questions. What’s their story? What’s their background? Why are they here? What are their goals and passions? What do we have in common? What do they know that I don’t? Because I want to know more about this person, I jump ahead and inquire about activities we might both like to participate in. On average this is not too successful, and maybe I’d do better just to say “Do you like free beer?” (Unfortunately, I’m not into that stuff myself.)

A short period of one on one conversation (but not small talk), that’s all it takes to trigger a curious mood. Of course, I do have to regulate my behavior according to the situation. I’ll show them as much curiosity as they’ll allow without feeling uncomfortable, and back away as I see fit. There’s no doubt about it: INTPs can be really intense with friends, or even strangers. If a high level of curiosity is allowed to be sustained over weeks, an obsessive mood may ensue. As creepy as that could sound, it’s just childish intentions at heart. INTPs just wanna play. (Unfortunately, good play for us in a good friendship requires either intellectual/emotional compatibility or a good puzzle to work on. Figuring out a new friend qualifies as a puzzle in itself, not that we consciously think of it this way.) When I’m obsessed with a friend, I want to impress them and I’ll direct my spare time (and heck, “working hours”) into a mutual hobby or making some sort of homemade gift. I’m not good at making things in general, both in terms of ideas and the practical side of things. Nevertheless, I’m inspired to try and something usually comes together.  Now, I don’t like to complain for complaining’s sake, but I’m pretty sure I live in the wrong culture for this kind of stuff. In a culture of early independence, dishonesty, binge drinking, DIY, “just harden up”, everything has an ulterior motive, and promiscuity (statistically one of the most promiscuous countries), some of the things I do would be seen as overly sentimental, trying too hard, or both. Oh yes, “trying hard” is totally not cool. I don’t know how to explain it, but this environment does not seem to encourage genuineness.

Anyhow, unless my friend is an extrovert or they’re constantly learning or they’re simply compatible, my interest in them eventually starts to decrease as I learn more about them. (Of course, them being busy or unreliable also accelerates my loss of interest.) At this point most of the mysteries have been solved and there are few left to be curious about. I’ve absorbed what they have to teach in terms of our different perspectives and their passions. This can take months or years, or until some obstacle makes one of us (i.e., them) unavailable before that natural conclusion. And so, many (poor choice of word?) of my friendships run on some kind of timer. Some because they’re not permanent residents or intend to move. But it seems evident, at least at my current stage in life, that I have a tendency to outgrow even my ‘good friends’ in the long run. I’ve almost come to expect it and I don’t know if I can do anything about it. People grow apart with age, but INTPs grow way out on their own. The fact that I tend to give more than I receive (except when traveling) does not change this one bit. It’s hard for people to receive the affection of an INTP because it’s so different to what they may be used to.

Perhaps you’re still wondering what any of this has to do with my poems. Sometimes our search for platonic love unexpectedly​ takes us beyond a curious mood and into something like a crush or a ‘squeeze’. A state of melancholic admiration. It completely kills whatever level of productivity we were already struggling to maintain. It’s not the same as the obsessive mood I described, because obsession usually results in the pursuit of a hobby. Maybe I could call it “falling in platonic love.” Nah, that sounds too deep.

If you actually read through all the above, what a sucker… you could have just skipped right to the poems. Just kidding. Thank you for reading.

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