Poetry Book Project: Annual Organization (RFC)

This spring I announced my intention to produce and self-publish a collection of my poetry. (As regular readers know, I post new poems here nearly every Friday, and have for more than a year weekly sought advice on selecting, organizing, and improving subsets of the whole.) Today I’d like to describe a concept for the collection that I recently thought of; please let me know what you think.

The first big problem that has been stalling this project has been the question of how to organize it. My first thought was to arrange it around some theme (which was also suggested by a friend whose critical advice I trust), but my poems about any given subject, like Lewis’s papers in God in the Dock, would likely sound quite repetitive when placed together, because I often use similar images, expand on similar themes, and make similar points.

A second approach I considered was something more like a “sampler,” including poems on many different topics to give an overview of my work. This would avoid the problem of too many too-similar poems placed together, but unlike the “thematic” option offers no guidance at all in selecting and arranging the poems. This is sort of the “default option,” but that problem is why I’ve made the “Poetry Archive” posts asking for your advice each Thursday.

However, I finally thought of an idea. I could take the structure of the year—the two cycles of seasons, in the natural world and in the Church—and hang the collection on that. This would give me some direction as I decide which poems to include, and which to put where, but wouldn’t lead to similar poems juxtaposed.

This offers several possibilities for organization. I think that about fifty pages is about right for a first collection, which since most of my poems are quite short means nearly that many poems. I could make the collection be “a poem for each week of the year,” but I’m already doing that to some extent here on this blog. I could also cover only a quarter or half a year with several poems per week. Or I could ignore the cycle of weeks entirely and organize it into parts by season.

What do you think of this idea?

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4 thoughts on “Poetry Book Project: Annual Organization (RFC)

    • I had a discussion with a friend in a chat session over the weekend, and I’m increasingly convinced that this model—or one of its variations—is the way to go. Do you have any opinion on which of the options I describe in the last lengthy paragraph above might be best?

        • I think that no matter which option I go with—a whole year in one volume or only a fraction of a year; week-by-week or not—“seasons” (natural, liturgical, or informal) will almost certainly be framework by which the, or each, volume is organized and into which it is divided.

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