Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How hard will your title work for you?

How hard does it have to?

I've been looking for titles. Or, I've been looking for new titles, wondering whether some of my poems are weighed down by titles that just don't add that certain mystery or intrigue, titles that just don't work.

Once in a while, I come up with some bold, long title that I love. Yet those poems aren't getting picked up, either.

Hmmm… Let's get to specifics.

On the one hand, I have poems called

  • Beyond the Streets, Slick with Night’s Imprint

  • 1999: Into the Sharp Timbre of Light We Walk the Morning

  • At the Hospital, They Keep the Bright Lights On

  • Late in the Growing Season, When the Nights Begin to Cool

And then I'm left with

  • Another March

I convinced myself that this last had subtle shades of meaning, although possibly only to me.

Looking at them here, I realize that I am equating length with goodness, which I admit seems arbitrary (maybe not even fair), but the longer titles are stories in and of themselves. Is that a good thing? (I'm leaning that way.) And would you want a whole book of these lengthy and exuberant titles? (Back to that idea of balance.)

I know it rests on context, the title with the rest of the poem.

But as I struggle with my paltry one- or two-word titles, I find myself wondering whether I'm just not trying hard enough to find something more generous, maybe even wild.

Any title hints or tricks out there?

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