There exists

No greater fear

Then vacancy

What if

My ineptitude

Stemmed not

From inexperience

But from a lack

Of content?


You told me once

That my vocabulary

Was too big

To justify

That all love

Was a form of





A resident heart




What right

Did I have

To speak

Of happiness

When I knew

So little of her

What right

Did I have

To speak

Of moments

Not yet defiled

By a captious brain

When they stood

So few and far



That was the day

I put aside my pen

The day

That I decided


That I was nothing

I lacked

The confidence

To redeem myself

So I hid


I drank of hemlock

And in agony

My soul from eyes


Hence forth

I reside internal

Hence forth

A Judas

To my muse


I was inspired to write this after speaking to Bianca. Many many years ago before I had a blog when my poems were selectively and seldomly shared I received a critique that would stop me from writing for years. I had a friend I shared my poetry with regularly and for many years he was a great supporter of my work. Then one day I decided to write something quite different from my usual fare. I was quite excited about it because I felt that the only way for me to grow was to push myself out of my comfort zone and take on new challenges. He HATED the poem. His criticism went from the poem, to my worth as a human being. For several hours he questioned the very foundation of my beliefs, he said I was a phony. He did not like that I used vocabulary he was not familiar with and he felt that the poem was cliched and lacked emotional depth which led him to the conclusion that if I wrote it I was equally superficial. He’d read countless poems of mine before and had never criticized them for being superficial so I am not sure what led him to believe that in one day I had transformed into another person but that is precisely what he did believe. He truly believed I was a traitor. A person of depth was never happy and never could be happy that was the burden of genius madness and misery. I had fallen. The critique really hurt me because not only did our friendship take a blow from which it never recovered (he does not read any of my poems now and rarely talks to me) but it hit on my biggest fear, the fear that I had no emotional depth. All through my childhood I had been accused of being insensitive, cold, and emotionless. What if everything I wrote was cliché? Vacuous? What if I had no substance? No soul? Without substance I had no worth. I stopped writing for years. I tried but my confidence was destroyed I did not want to write pretty poems, I wanted to write meaningful poems. Everything I wrote seemed so empty. It was a very long time before I took the criticism and used it to strengthen my resolve as a writer. I hardly remember the years I didn’t write I became very withdrawn. I offer my poems to a much larger audience now as part of a resolve to be fearless at least where writing is concerned.

40 responses to “Abject

  1. Criticism that is not constructive is only hurtful. I’m sorry you had to go through so much pain because of someone’s incredible insensitivity and callousness. Whether he believed what he said or not, if he was a true friend he would have tried to be more sensitive. You have so much emotional depth; I find it laughable that anyone would think otherwise. Exploring is a wonderful thing to do when it comes to writing, and although I do not explore free verse, I would be appalled if I wrote a free verse poem and was lambasted for it. I am so glad you are fearless with your writing as it is always so beautiful and heartfelt. You are a blessing to the WordPress community. 🙂

  2. Dear MLM, the issue was never yours but your critic. I well understand how hurtful such criticism can be. To me you are one of the most intellectually challenging writers in blog land, by that I mean you always make me think about what you say I see great depth in what you write. I greatly appreciate your comments on my work and I feel humble participating in your weekly challenge. Please continue to write as you do, I’m only new to your blog, thankfully recommended by our mutual friend, and I am so looking forward to this weeks prompt, yours is a blog I love being part of. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK..xx

    • I realised I have not commented on your poem, how rude of me, but having read the bottom section I realise and understand the poem better. You write about the criticism levelled at you, unfounded I would say, but devastating for you. The ending is the final statement re your pian, a powerful image, the judas one.

      • Thank you so much for your kind words and your thoughtful comments =) I am so happy you are enjoying the prompts and I look forward to your submissions! I am stronger now but the criticism really hit a nerve as it played upon one of my greatest fears. I wasn’t able to even talk about it for a long time and now I can and it is okay.

  3. I am so sorry that you were met with such hateful behavior. But, I am blessed that you saw past it and decided to share with us here. You are a blessing to WordPress. Your work comes from a heart that is trying to work out the joys and hurts of life; there are no better than those who write honestly about their issues and feelings. Please keep writing. We need you.

  4. you know…i only take crit from ones that i respect…i do try to choose ones that will be honest…but ther eis acare in that honesty not some spiteful attempt to make themselves feel better…that is dangerous stuff…i would never want to take away someones desire to write…

  5. I get that kind of criticism, too – a lot; but honestly can be handled in a nice way, and that kind of criticism is just plain wrong. Anyway, you are special, and one of a kind; you are the only one who can write your kind of poetry, which I myself adore. May you hone your craft and never stop writing!

    Yahweh loves you!
    Romans 8:5

  6. Wow, I think your friend had a problem – that form of criticism ALWAYS says more about the critic than what is being critiqued…don’t let anyone ever tell you not to write, you were born to write my dear, and as I said very early in the piece when I first found your blog, your writing reminds me of Rimbaud…and just let anyone tell us that he wasn’t born to write!!!! 🙂

  7. I think you are one the best writers I have come across. To think that someone who called themselves your “friend” would say such hurtful things and almost extinguish the flow of words from such an astounding poet is unbelievable. I love and admire your work, it is filled with depth and emotion.

  8. Sometimes people say and do things that shatter us and make us run away. When we have had time to think it all through we suddenly realise that we have grown from what has been said, our resolve to prove we are the person with more talent has driven us forward. If your ‘friend’ hadn’t said those things you would still be writing ordinary poetry. Look at yourself now, you are writing deep, soul level magnificent poems. Poems that speak about you, the depth of your being. My opinion, he did you a huge favour.

    • At the time I was so hurt I missed the lesson and gave into fear and insecurity. Not writing proved very detrimental to my mental health but at the same time it showed me that writing regardless of quality is a biological imperative for me. From that I eventually did learn to challenge myself and to cope with criticism a little better (I still get hurt but I push through and rebound faster) and to keep going despite whatever complexes or insecurities I might have. Even if no one liked my writing, writing is still something I must do. We all have our own path sometimes we walk alone and in opposition, sometimes together with support but walk we must if we want to get anywhere haha

      • Writing, is writing, is writing. Yes there is that need to write for wellbeing, whether it’s for an audience, yourself or even the shredder. Actually it’s like jogging, you can get quite hooked on the high that comes with repetition. It feeds us and nourishes our psyche. The main thing, just keep on doing it. There will always be someone or even a lot of someone’s who don’t like what we write. It’ a given that we can’t please everyone, we write to please ourselves first, then tentatively offer it to the world. You’re doing fine.
        I see you’ve been having a read of my army series, thank you for taking the time.

      • Thank you so much, it’s the sense of humour that has kept me going. I try to tell things how they were at the time, the good the bad and the funny.

  9. Your poetry is amazing. Do you know why?Because its you. You know, anyone can slap a few words or a lot of words on a paper, and it will be a poem,yes, but I wanna feel them. I wanna read it and I wanna feel something. To judge what you feel is wrong and I think this person was not even doing that, I feel as tho this person was jealous that you were growing,that you were exploring,that you were breaking free. And the no communication> HIS LOSS. And its a big one, if I might say, but I feel bad that it dragged behind you and was stopping you from writing, but so glad that you overcome it.
    This poem of yours is beautiful and not just because I am a fan of your writing, or I like you as a person, there is nothing to criticize here. The imagery,the language, the extensions,the way that you put words down with or without effort – it merges simply into a waterfall of knowledge each and everytime, it is vibrant, alive, raw, honest and fearless.

    • Awwww that is incredibly kind of you =) I want to keep pushing my boundaries to pour more of myself into my work, to become more and more fearless. I do think despite the abusive nature of the critique that I did manage to learn something from it even if it did take me a while to get past the hurt and feelings of rejection. I have a ways to go in becoming fearless and a ways to go in becoming resilliant and emotionally strong but I want to keep working with that in mind. One of my biggest weaknesses is my inability to cope with change, I think it is impart just the way my brain is wired I am very withdrawn and Aspergerish so change takes me a long time and totally freaks me out. I get kind of very unsettled even if the grocery store is reorganized the whole hand-flapping talking to myself thing happens. I won’t get anywhere as a writer if I don’t look at my demons.

      • I can relate to that, I absolutely cannot stand change, not even with the simplest of things, like, somebody movingglasses from one cupboard to another.
        I think that “critique” was good for something : at least you can now know what a proper critique is not. Many places on the internet are very similar to what this person told you, people can be weird and just spew insults, but over time you get to the point you don’t give them emotional attention. Still, no matter how much you grow, unconstructive criticism will I think always hurt when it comes from people you consider close to you, like this friend was.
        I think you are doing a great job on growing and setting yourself free 🙂

      • My husband came home after getting haircut and he was wearing sunglasses and I freaked out because I didn’t know who he was for minute he will never let me live that one down. He tried for years to wear a hat but I apparently kept throwing them away I saw something I didn’t recognize I guess I am not sure what happened because I don’t consciously remember throwing away the hats. I am so glad I found wordpress it is a very positive community and I found you guys!

  10. I instantly recognized this poem as the experience you told me about. Like Sonya says, when criticism is not constructive it is only destructive. As for your ‘friend’…perhaps it was jealousy. Your writing couldn’t be further from cliche if you tried. I’m sorry that you had to go through this, but very happy that you overcame it.
    I also agree with Laurie’s comment to a certain extent..I don’t know what your writing was like before your blog, but if those hurtful comments forced you to retreat and reflect in such a way that your writing became sharper and edgier, then he probably did do you a favour.
    I had a similar experience at University when I took a poetry course. My tutor and peers totally hated my writing. They didn’t connect with it. They didn’t appreciate it. I took it personally, retreated, lost my voice and any semblance of confidence that I had. I gave up writing poetry until I started my blog earlier this year. That was 8 years ago now, and although the experience did a lot of damage, it also forced me to find the courage and take the plunge by starting a blog and finding out if there was anyone out there who did appreciate my writing. I don’t know, I constantly fear that people tell you what they think you want to hear. My self-criticism knows no bounds and attacks me on a daily basis, but, like you, I have made the choice to face the fear and do it anyway. Why? Because writing is like breathing for me. I can’t imagine doing anything else. It makes me truly happy. I nourishes my soul and brings colour to my black and white world.
    A lot of writers these days are concerned about being liked by other writers. It’s an easy trap to fall into, and I myself fallen into this same trap since starting my blog. But, I have come to the conclusion that it really doesn’t matter. I mean, is it other writers who will become loyal readers or is it readers?
    At the end of the day, there will be those who appreciate our writing and those who don’t. To worry about, and waste energy on, those who don’t is a fruitless exercise. Instead, we should write from the soul and trust that our words will find those readers who will gain something from our insight and work.
    I can see why you force yourself to write and publish everyday. I commend you for it, and I’d like to challenge myself to do the same.
    Please don’t ever doubt your raw and amazing talent. Please believe that your writing is superlative and your words always stir my thoughts, memories and emotions.
    Huge hugs to you, my friend xoxo

    • That must have been very difficult/painful it breaks my heart because you are so gifted, in college I was afraid to take creative writing and so I never did which may have been a huge missed opportunity or conversely a blessing it is hard to say. I have learned myself that not everyone can relate to my work but if it comes from the heart it will reach someone somewhere =) I find my poems are challenging for people to relate too as well, it means so much to me that you understand and connect with my work. I love your work as well and find your poems full of emotional depth, I find myself wishing I could write as a elegantly as you do and your stories they are so engrossing, so well thought out I am always impressed! Thank you so much Bianca =)

  11. Oh my dear friend……there is no lack of content within you. 🙂 Your words are over flowing with emotion (all of them…positive and negative but that is good) and when I read them I feel like I see more and more inside of you. This also touched me on a personal level because I remember my ex would read some of my old poems/writings and tell me I was trying to act better than him. Then when I would use a so called bigger word, he would say I was trying to make him feel stupid. So I even find myself now…speaking and writing….watching how I say things.
    Words are so powerful and when certain people use them in a hateful manner, it really does leave such indelible scars within us. I do not mind criticism if it comes from a good heart, but those that just seek to tear down because of their insecurities really wield their words as weapons so recklessly….they do not care who they hurt as long as they feel momentarily better.
    You know how much I love your writing. You are such a little dazzling genius my friend. 🙂 The only time I ever had to look up a word of yours was Pharisaical…hahahaha. It is so refreshing to read your work that challenges the mind and imagination.
    Okay…I am going on and on….but I do love your work so much and thrilled to find you in this lovely blogworld.

    • Since I can’t say anything nice about your ex I will just say that I am so glad you are out of that destructive relationship. You deserve happiness and to be loved and treated with love and respect. I know all too well that even when you’ve left an unhealthy relationship the pain doesn’t just evaporate it takes a long time to get your confidence back and there is a lot of healing that needs to happen. You have such a warm and bright personality Anja, you are full of life, and your work is soulful and vulnerable. Thank you for always encouraging me and I am so glad we met!

      • ha no need to speak of him kindly. 🙂 Karma will sort all that out. I focus on all the positive people and events in my life now. You being one. 🙂

  12. Wings are a BIG problem. I mean you have to have slits cut into the back of all of your clothes and they don’t fold up as flat as you would imagine, I’m always leaning against them. They are uncomfortable when I sleep and sometimes I fall out of bed when they open without warning. I put one of those artist dolls in the room with me and when the sun is out you can see it reflected on the wall. Pretty funny. I’m going to draw wings on the wall and see how it looks. Flying is fun, of course, and I would never, ever think of getting rid of my wings but a lot of people don’t understand what having them is like. And no, I’m not an angel, I’m just one more alien being from the universe. We really are EVERYWHERE. I mean it. You earthlings have five senses. That makes you blind, deaf and you can’t smell anything. Your brain is a joke, well, to the rest of us alien beings, that is. Except for T4, they are still crawling out of the ooze, but after them, well, you’re up. We try not to make fun of you, especially when we visit. But really? You aren’t sure WE exist? Oh PLEASE! See, that’s just what I mean. Locked onto a rock that’s flying around a star and you think you are something special. Pathetic. And yes, we do live among you and yes, you look right at us and pretend that you didn’t see us or convince yourself that you saw something else. But, wings, yes, wings. When the new feathers come in they itch. Did you know that? Well, now you do. The one thing we have in common is that some of us with white feathers, wish they were black and vice versa. You know, never satisfied. I think that’s a normal thing for all of us, so don’t get your hopes up that when you reincarnate, you’ll suddenly be happy in a nice fairy land. Just don’t let anyone talk you into gong to T4, you won’t like it there, believe me.

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