Shadow Box

It’s the detritus I’m after
the quiet accumulation of time
along the back walls
of the closet
in the underused drawers
of the night stand.
I purge them
only to regret my harsh
judgement of ticket stubs
and tidbits of parcels
it’s a life after all, my every
everyday, and I’ve kept them
for one reason or another,
because I am afraid of forgetting
or that I may never be happy like this
again. But they collect,
the casual evidence of suburbia:
receipts, wrapping paper,
whimsical notes,
until I gather them up
and feast of their sadness…
sad that I kept them
sad that I will
never change.
–ECW

Bookmaking: Organizing Your Content

Dear Poets,

Hello and thank you to all the new followers for taking an interest in this brainspace. Let’s travel back to a post from almost a month ago and talk about setting up a book from the ground up. I had some photos of my experience and talked a little about my epiphany but otherwise, there wasn’t much direction for you.

 

So let’s make things a little more practical.

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I started with a list. My poetry collection is a little over 100 poems now, but that’s not a true number. Most of them I would never use, many others are far from finished. Some of them are pretty close to being ready and others I have submitted before. In order to reign in that group I started with a list.

 

In this post I talk about making your poems visible with a master-sheet. Mine was done in excel, which was a breeze. I recommend having a line for the title, date and revised date (at least). If you are at the point where you are submitting these works, you might want to have those dates and journals listed so you can keep track.

List

 

Back to the book – I knew I wanted this to feel like a book, so it was important to have bump pages (blank pages that serve as space fillers, like in a novel at the start and the end).Suddenly the book that was 72 pages was actually 70. Keep this in mind, as you will not want a book that is cover to cover poems.

You will need:

A title page

Chapter heads

Blank pages inside to separate them

For me, I wanted all chapter heads on the right side, so some additional blank pages were needed for those.

 

Then I started making a key:

I numbered a piece of paper, designating blank pages, chapter heads and how many poems should go in each. It was really just guess work at that point.

I wanted 10 chapters and each chapter therefore had 5-6 poems. I was not strict in the first round since I knew I would lose my mind going in and messing with the pages. There was time for that later, during the layout.

I also decided I didn’t want poems to take 2 pages. It was too hard to manage them in the word layout. That would be up to you, depending on how complicated you wanted to project to be.

Then, I simply went poem by poem and put it on a page line (or not). I knew I wanted certain poems to face each other—evens on the Left, odds on the Right—and others I wanted to begin or end a chapter. That was about a meticulous as I got in planning. Otherwise things just landed where they felt right.

For me – The poem number as well as the title help define my work. In my list I have mostly numbers. I was able to better locate them that way. Poem numbers are important in my collection, though this might not be a factor for you. Maybe they are color coded or separated by theme; keep this in mind as it will add character and interest to the collection as a whole. We are not talking about just single pieces, but as a full representation of your work. That means there will be a bigger picture to consider.

I’ll be back soon to talk about Titles!

Keep Writing and start Booking!

Poem 65 Edited

Poem 65 I love, but there will still need to be more editing, the end is a little flat and the delivery, though better than before, could be whittled a bit more.

Poem 65

Poem 65. There are so many revised versions to this poem. Most of them were lost on my notes from college as a result of poor organization. Could I go back I would make 2 changes to my poetry plan as a student:

1 – be more organized and diligent about revising in the moment and not waiting until the assignment or the book is due.

2 – take the time to gather all of the drafts so that changes could be tracked and I could maybe go back if I got stuck. 

There was something desperate and fast about college poetry classes. Most of them had only a few assignments, so when push came to shove I stalled them to be more studious in classes like science – ugh.

As a result there was a rush at the end. Not only were there all sorts of papers with all kinds of hand written notes but there was no time to collect them together. When we were at the end of a deadline I was more inclined to just turn out the best poem I could as it was, so inevitably, the versions were lost.

All that feedback, all that middle drafting, just gone. What a shame. If I could go back I would always have saved them, maybe scanned them, maybe made notes on all the suggestions. This poem was a class workshop poem, an assignment poem, a submission poem, so the feedback was diverse and well thought out, and now it is lost to the universe, hopefully I recycled it.

That doesn’t make this version any better or worse than it might have been. Nothing is lost that is not regained eventually, as an artist I believe this with all of my heart. This is just less pensive. Less thought out, less considered. As a poet of process I like the idea of feedback and connected drafting. For me, this poem feels a little like the progression of humans over time. All these missing links and no way to really reconnect them, only thoughts and ideas on what might have been between.

TAKEAWAY

Poems with lots and lots of drafts have a more complicated process that might bet lost if organization is not a priority. For me, the lost drafts are a casualty of my former messiness. For now, the poem is better than ever despite any lost versions. The poem will be whatever it wants to be eventually, as long as we all keep editing, those drafts will be a shame but not a tragedy.

Poem 65 RevisedPoem 65 Original