A Poet's Double Life

For poets working outside the literary world.

How Poetry Can Change Your Personality


Take-Your-Poet-to-Work-Emily-Dickinson-coverOne of my favorite bloggers, Patrick Ross at The Artist’s Road, reviewed the new book Creative You: Using Personality to Thrive by David Goldstein and Otto Kroeger. The book breaks down creativity across the sixteen personality profiles found in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The MBTI personality profiles are a combination of four dimensions:

1) Direction of Energy: E(xtroversion) or I(ntroversion) – E’s prefer to attend primarily to the outer world of people and things, whereas I’s prefer the inner world of ideas and thoughts

2) Tools of Perception: S(ensing) or iN(tuition) – S’s are interested in applied and pragmatic endeavors whereas N’s prefer more abstract and theoretical endeavors.

3) Tools of Judgment: T(hinking) or F(eeling) – T’s are more interested in a technical-analytical approach to life and F’s are more interested in the communications-relationship aspects of life.

4) Lifestyles: J(udging) or P(erceiving) – J’s prefer a lifestyle that is more structured and decided and that allows them to bring closure to things, whereas P’s prefer a lifestyle that is more flexible and adaptable and that allows them to continue to gather new information

From the time I took my first battery of personality and career-interest assessments in college, my MBTI has been INTJ. These letters roll off my tongue as easily as my childhood home address. They are engrained in my brain like the product of 8×7 (56!) has been since 2nd grade. My boss is a certified MBTI consultant and gave us the assessment in February 2011, where I was once again, INTJ. Fast forward to June 2013–four new people at work and another opportunity to take the MBTI, where I was an INFJ. A what? When did I become a F?

I certainly blame poetry for the transition (seamless as it was). One of the major differences between T’s and Fs is this: T’s believe telling the whole truth is more important than being tactful and F’s believe being tactful is more important than telling the “cold” truth. As a poet, I certainly believe in the words of Emily Dickinson, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant.” Poets are more concerned with the big T universal truth and sometimes have to change the facts to reach that goal. I guess creative non-fiction writers like Patrick are INTJ’s because their work has to find that balance between the big T and the little T of truth.

Here are a few more insights about INFJ’s

  • often have deep interests in creative expression as well as issues of spirituality and human development
  • they live for insight and imagination, and they move freely in the inner world of ideas
  • have a love of learning and they are typically academically inclined
  • their great powers of concentration can make them excellent researchers
  • often have facility with the written or spoken word, and with foreign languages, and reading is usually a source of great joy for them

Ok, so maybe the INFJ shoe fits. What’s your MBTI type?

The real MBTI cost $150 to take, but Personality Pathways offers a cognitive style inventory that approximates your MBTI preferences.

Author: poetsdoublelife

Poet and strategy/data guru living in Massachusetts.

6 thoughts on “How Poetry Can Change Your Personality

  1. ENFJ — been that way for years. as a younger woman (especially in my 20s), though, I was ENTJ. funny how that -T just slid on away from me, too. ~Cherryl

  2. Fascinating! As you know I’m an INTJ (glad you liked my post). But I took an online version of the test recently after reading Creative You, and what I saw is that I am closer to the F than I was in years past; that could be the creative writing focus in general. I’m not a poet, but CNFers are encouraged to think like poets. I’ve also become closer to E than I over the years, but am still I. I am strongest on the N and the J.

    • Patrick–loved your post and glad you liked mine. I’m very strong on the I, N, and J (no more than 3 points on the other letters). I definitely thinking the writing focus pulls toward the F and in the past two years that’s where my life has gone. Right now I’m what my boss calls a little F (only one point separates the T and the F), but I’m sure the F will grow stronger the more I emphasize the creative side of this double life.

  3. Blaming poetry sounds perfect. 🙂

    thanks for featuring our Emily Dickinson picture!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.