Poetry Archive Conclusions, Poetry Book Update

With Thursday’s index, and this concluding discussion, my “Poetry Archive” experiment is essentially at an end. (I’m not going to close off comments or pull any posts, so further discussion can still go on, but I don’t plan any more Archive posts.) In today’s post, I’ll summarize the results so far, and then talk a bit more about my planned collection.

In all of this, I’m omitting two sets of poems that I hope to eventually make into their own “dedicated” collections: my Psalm settings and my cycle set in the Arthurian myths. (If you think leaving poems in those cycles out of my first collection is a mistake, I’m willing to listen to why you think so.)

My main source of data I looked at was the (WordPress) “likes” on the various posts. Since WordPress sends me an email every time someone “likes” a post, this was fairly easy to collect, and not all that difficult to get into a usable form. To it I added the (much sparser, and vastly more tedious and difficult to collect) Facebook “likes”, and additional “votes” based on comments (both here on the blog and on Facebook). I didn’t use “likes” on the Poetry Archive (list) posts themselves.

The poem that got the most votes (12) was “How do my knees”—but that includes “likes” of both the original post and the revised version (linked here and in the archive) I posted the following week.

The next most popular poem, with 10 “likes”, was Stories. Counting WordPress “likes” alone, none of the others came close, but adjusting based on the additional data made the comparison with other poems less clearly defined. I’m not going to list the 92 poems that got less than four votes, even though there are some in that group that some of you said were your favorites (so, if you think they’re my best and should go in the collection, speak up for them again!), so here are the remaining poems on the list, with the number of “likes” (adjusted, as I described above), they received as of Friday morning.

I’d like to adjust these based on exposure (poems posted longer ago, and poems that have received fewer “hits”, should perhaps have votes for them count more than a poem posted this month), since my “audience” has grown somewhat of late, but I don’t have the time or effort to spare for that at the moment.

Last November, I came up with the idea of organizing the collection around the calendar. I still think that’s the best idea I’ve had so far, so I plan to make the cycle of the year the thread that ties the collection together. Given that organization, assuming the collection is to cover the whole year (rather than being the first volume of a two-, three-, or four-volume series, and thus only covering a fraction of a year), I need

  • One poem for Christmas,
  • One poem for Epiphany,
  • One poem for Good Friday,
  • One poem for Easter,
  • One poem for either Pentecost or Trinity, and
  • One poem for Thanksgiving.

If I go with the strict one-poem-per-week version of the idea, I need, including the above, thirteen poems for (i.e. to go within—there are some poems that could “fit” anywhere) each of winter, spring, summer, and autumn; if I go with the looser version, I need on the order of ten for each of the four “natural” seasons. For the specific needs I listed, and perhaps for some additional “slots” (when there’s a holiday I didn’t list above that falls in a week) this means going back into the archive—but for the rest, it’s a matter of further winnowing the selections listed above, and deciding on a good order for the poems I choose.

I also need a title (any suggestions? “A Year in Verse” sounds too … pedestrian) any illustrations (at least one, for the cover, but it’d be nice to have some interior illustrations too), and a “blurb” (I’m going to find it awkward to write in the third person about myself …). And I need to carefully revise the poems I end up choosing.

Did your favorite poem not make it into the list above? Which of the “most popular” poems do you think should go into the collection? Where? If you have an opinion on any of the questions I raised in this post—or anything else to say—please comment.


5 thoughts on “Poetry Archive Conclusions, Poetry Book Update

    • If you have any suggestions for additional poems, or revisions to the ones I already include, I’d still be most glad to hear them. One of the things I had intended to mention in my “progress report” today but forgot about when the time came was that while I think it’s fairly typical of poetry collections, the almost 60 poems—and the front and back matter—don’t even add up to 70 pages, which is quite small for a self-published book, so I’m still thinking about what other poems might fit the collection.

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