Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Got a submission ready this morning then suffered a last-minute crisis. I put it all in the envelope with the nagging feeling that one of the titles is wrong. Because I like the poem I told myself the title was secondary. But the more I thought about the title, the dumber it seemed. I was at least partly psyching myself out. But rather than suffer a two-day struggle session over it and sit on the sub, I’m leaving the poem out.

I knew I would get crazy when I started flipping through titles of poems looking for a jolt. (Now “jolt” is good, can I wriggle that in?). The search helped not at all, except in showing how may unremarkable titles are out there. Here's a chunk of what I turned up:

Acquisition * Race * Luck * A Man in Pearls * Consumed * The Overcoat * Desire * August Day * White Flannel Trousers * Sonnet * Obsession * The Deathmask of El Gaucho * Amputees * Glad All Over * Romancing the Bay Mare * Solitude * Voyage * Sandals * President of the Flat Earth Society Dies * Infinity

OK, which of those would you read first? Certainly those that are a little different are more enticing, but I’m sure most of us have resorted to generics once in a while. Of course, once you read the poem the title may be weirdly perfect. But I didn’t read these poems.

In other news, I got a rejection from Rosebud yesterday, one year and seven months after I submitted. Oh, with ink.


Julie Carter said...

I would probably read "Sonnet" first, but then the more interesting titles.

Which is odd considering that I don't do interesting titles myself. I'm just barely creative enough to come up with a poem. Giving it a good title is just too damned hard!

SarahJane said...

ha! right, by the time the poem is finished, the title can just go to hell.
I think of ee cummings who didn't title his poems at all, and Louise Gl├╝ck who just names them the same thing over and over.
Now Bob Dylan, he is good with titles. I understand we can just steal his and he won't care.

Arlene said...

hey, belated CONGRATULATIONS on finishing your round at 30:30!!! hope to see you back there... maybe in october? **nudgenudgewinkwink**

as for the titles... i'd have read "amputees" first. but i've got a thing for missing limbs and phantom itches. hee.

a rejection after one year and seven months... god, just reading about that makes me feel ancient.

thrilled to hear you're thinking of sending work to juked. i sent them a cover letter like yours, too... and gushed about loving the stuff they publish only after the acceptance note. hee. i think they'll love your stuff. do send!

and yes, the poems come first. reading for TPM opened my rheumy eyes to this. some poets send the most wonderful cover letters... but —erm— fail to bring the bacon home, i'm afraid.


p.s. you can now visit my blog at work while you pretend you're working — i've disabled the music. i'd never rat on you. hee.

LukeBuckham said...

I would read 'President of the Flat Earth Society Dies', even though I fear it would be overly political & therefore bad poetry, as all really political poetry is. But the title is stranger and more intense than the other titles, and even if it turned out to be a terrible political manifesto in verse, at least it might be flamboyantly bad.

I find that now that I put out my own magazine, I'm less and less interested in submitting to other magazines. I do submit occasionally, but not with much enthusiasm.

It's true that Bob Dylan's titles are great, because they are unique and don't describe anything specifically, just get you interested without your knowing why. And I like that.

'Obviously Five Believers',


nate said...

"President of the Flat Earth Society" just sounds fun to me. I"d have to read it first. I love a good title. Most times, it's all I have...

Liz said...

Hi Sarah,

I think I'd go for 'Sandals' as I'd hope for something unusual and colossal to be made from something so ordinary as sandals ;)

Maybe see you in 30:30 :)


SarahJane said...

I'm pretty sure I'd read Glad All Over first.

michi said...

i think i'd read the flat earth society poem first, then sonnet.

titles can be tough.

sometimes though i have a title and then have to write a whole poem to go with it, like yesterday: lester lewis takes inventory after the shipwreck. who knows where that came from.

anyway - sorry to hear about the somewhat delayed "no thanks", and hey, come back to 30/30 soon, i miss reading your work!



SarahJane said...

hey michi
i would have come right back but i'm off to the states in two weeks for vacation/visiting, and I'm off to Bonn this weekend. probably when I'm back.
and you have no deficit in the titular imagination department, that is sure.

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