Sunday, July 3, 2016

Creating Order

image of blocks spelling "order" and "chaos"

In The White Space Inside the Poem, Susan Grimm addresses the question of order: specifically, in what order should a poet arrange their poems?
Of course, she is coming back to a subject she has addressed before: Ordering the Storm: How to put together a book of poems. And others have looked at the subject as well: the helicopter view, the mix-tape strategy.

You can order by theme, by date, by alternating long and short, or alternating serious and frivolous poems. You can put similar-themed poems next to each other, or you can sprinkle them out, or bookend a collection with poems on the same theme.

At a reading, I like to try to alternate the serious with the silly; the rhymed with the free.  But sometimes it's good to just find a theme and develop it.

In all, it's a question of whether a book of poetry is a selection of individual gems, or a single unified thing.  One thing, or many?  In the mix-tape view, is this a rock opera, or a collection of singles?

Anyone else have thoughts to add?

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The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau