A Letter to the Discouraged Poet

3 min read
Leurindal's avatar
By Leurindal
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I shall not address you as “dear”, for you are not dear to me. Nor would any excessive empathy from my part do you any good. I know you. You’d just wallow in more self-pity and mistake my empathy for tourniquets for your bloody failures. Nothing is. Nothing justifies the fact that you’re twenty and alone and a pompous, self-deceiving loser. That, as you yourself admit,  

In twenty years of flesh and ink
you have had ample time to think
yet written nothing
worth conserving...

You know your past. You know what your mistakes have been. I could list them for you, you know. All the times you didn’t seize the day, turning your life into a daily refutation of Carpe Diem and Thoreau’s “suck the marrow out of life”. All the books you could’ve read, but didn’t. All the girls you could’ve kissed, but never bothered to risk your neck. All the knowledge you traded for hours and hours of pseudo-nihilistic self-pity. And let’s face it, you kept playing Pokemon Crystal for way too long. It’s been years, damn it.  

But listen, lad. It’s not like your life has been easy. I know that. It’s been a wreck, I know, and you’ve been racked for way too long. That’s precisely my point. Chin up, lad. I know that you would have read those books weren’t you too depressed to switch on the bedlamp. I know that you would have dated more girls hadn’t you known that a “No” would have broken you apart. You could have learnt much more but, damn it lad, you’ve assimilated more than most lads your age can even imagine. And everyone knows how easy it is to get hooked on Pokemon Crystal...

Now, your poems. Don’t hold your breath. They suck, for the most part. But look at them, for God’s sake, just look at them. You’ve learnt. You’ve grown. There are some bad ones. Many bad ones, truth be told. Some are so bad that you’re unsure whether you should laugh or cry. But a handful of them do have promise. A handful of them do voice out what you’ve been through, and herald better things yet to come.       

Now, pleaseee. Don’t let any of this lull you into self-complacency. You’ve nothing to be proud of, as yet. Rather, look at it as a sincere acknowledgement of your potential – a potential which only you, through perseverance and dedication, can translate to actuality. Poetry is like alchemy, lad. You have all the lead you’ll ever need. Now, step up, and turn it into gold.

Arise, and make your life matter. It won’t be long before you’re too old to care.

Yours sincerely,


P.S. And you know that I was lying when I said you aren’t dear to me. I wouldn’t have told you all this weren’t you the dearest thing in my life.
© 2010 - 2020 Leurindal
anonymous's avatar
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ScarsAreBeautiful's avatar
This letter you wrote to yourself applies to 99% of the people in this world. We all feel inadequate in some way or the other, even the most successful people are not entirely save from the feeling that something is still missing in their lives. We are all searching for something that does not exactly exist in its purest form and that is peace - peace can be different things to different people, for some it can be a result of finding love, for some the result of fame, and for some the result of achieving wealth. But even if peace results from all these things, it is temporary (very much like a season).

I am not sure if this will help but I have (like many others in this world) trivialized my very own dreams because far too many obstacles came in the way and made it virtually impossible for me to realise the big dreams I once had. So my dreams have essentially become small, so small that I am not even sure if they can be regarded as 'dreams' but somehow, even these small dreams, have taught me a way to live and be content with just what I have. And, well, you are an amazing poet. A much better poet than I can ever be. I don't even consider myself a poet to begin with. I think the main reason why you are criticizing yourself here too much is because you expect toooo much of yourself but you have to know that achieving anything is a step-by-step process and just be patient. :)

Leurindal's avatar
I find myself incapable of not aiming high. In my eyes, only by being significant in whatever I do can I justify, and realize, my "self". I can't live with the fact that I'm no good at anything. I need to believe that the world would not be exactly the same without me :shrug:

I'm not sure I'd be able to live without big dreams. Dreams are what keeps me going. Without them, why suffer? Perhaps you're wiser and more mature than I am. I envy you for not needing dreams to be at peace.

ScarsAreBeautiful's avatar
Well, I never said I have no dreams at all, just that my dreams are the kind that would look small to most people. But to me, they are just everything, and somehow they complete me much more than the nearly impossible and out-of-reach dreams did.

In my eyes, only by being significant in whatever I do can I justify, and realize, my "self".

I used to be like that. Still am, in a way. I don't think there is particularly anything wrong with having this mind-set, this is the mind-set that drives you towards what you want...but sometimes, it cripples you as well and that is what you need to take care of. Human beings are paradoxical beings, insignificant yet absolutely significant, but insignificance is just as significant as significance since it is what makes us realise we are not perfect and we are not. The chase after perfection is dangerous in many ways.

Just my 2 cents, hope I made you feel a bit better! :hug:
Swords-and-Bandages's avatar
We will persevere.

Got some well-deserved criticism recently; my free verse, in its effort to immerse the reader in detail, became unfocused and hard to understand. It occasionally takes another light to illuminate the base of the lighthouse.
Leurindal's avatar
oh yes, very well-said :thumbsup: poetry is a lot like tight-rope walking -- we must find the right balance between the "too obvious" and the "too enigmatic", and it's a very fine line indeed.

And persevere we will! :salute:
Swords-and-Bandages's avatar
It's a fine line to tread. I haven't much time to explore the possibilities recently though...
Elestra's avatar
Dear Poet,

I am not offering you any tourniquets, because my sympathy is not known for its ability to soothe. I am giving you my words and you can judge their worth.

You are saying you have not written anything worth preserving. I highly doubt that. Or maybe it is my own inferiority complex, for I know that only four of my poems are truly good. After several years of writing my poems still stalk the thickets of iambic pentameter and the themes will ever say the same, I guess.

You say you could have done so much more. But isn't that the case with all of us? I am eighteen and I could have trained my intelligence, instead of writing in classes and getting lulled by the feeling that I am immortal and a genius. I cannot translate one of my favourite sayings so that it would sound good, but its meaning is somewhere near 'in retrospect we are all wise'.

You had reasons for every thing you consider a failure and you know it very well, Poet. No reason to worry. No one can take the sky from you but yourself.

Another Reader
(who has just come of age and is striding the woods of unrequited love and bad poetry)
Leurindal's avatar
yes, there's a similar saying in Maltese as well :)

"the woods of unrequited love and bad poetry" - oh yes, I know those woods altogether too well.

Thank you, and take care :heart:
Winding-Silence's avatar
Daww. Keep on rolling matey :icongwompplz:
andyslade's avatar

Reader speaks mostly (excuse the vernacular) bollox, though does make a few good, truthful, points.

Talking of truth. You're doing fine. More than fine.

What comes after fine? Shine.

I'll stand with you.

Any day.
Leurindal's avatar
thanks, Andy. Means a lot to me :hug:
SedahLiah's avatar
Pokemon Crystal was fun. :thumbsup:
Leurindal's avatar
I have sworn not to touch that game again! It takes too long to complete the Pokedex, especially in the more recent games!
SedahLiah's avatar
I have sworn to never play Monopoly again. Simply because the last time I played was such an epic come-from-behind victory that I didn't want to taint its memory.
alapip's avatar
there is definite love and much respect
between those two, Leonard, and huge
potential in 'both of them'.

the writer knows the reader extremely
well, gives valid acknowledgement where
deserved, also valid honesty where needed,
and should be heeded as quite wise.

i might suggest that they have these
colloquies much more often, perhaps
as a quarterly performance evaluation?


Leurindal's avatar
oh yes, that they should ;) :heart:
Decibell's avatar
Loving this. Let me say I Identify.
Self-criticism will either make you or break you, as a god-like teacher once told me. It looks to be doing the former.

Good luck.
Leurindal's avatar
KJ-Illustration's avatar

Just never let your head hang down, keep it held up high and shoulders straight, and never, never ever try to become someone you're not, that is the biggest mistake you can make. You're doing good, just become better :heart:

Love, Kim
rlkirkland's avatar
Dear Poet
Writing is great therapy... 20? Hmmm x 3 that before Writing thngs that matters and most of it is still tripe. :D
Get on with it, your doing fine. :)
anonymous's avatar
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