08 January 2008

Trade secrets...revealed!

I have a pretty decent new poem, but oh! The task of giving it a title! Jay-R (not to be confused with Jay-V) extracted a title from the poem itself, but I feel like I need to come up with something new, something better than "The Enlightenment," which is what it's currently called.

So spill it. How do you come up with your titles? Any of the really good titlers out there care to give us some advice? Am I the only poet who stinks at titling? Yes? Oh dear.

On an unrelated note, I received my first royalty check for Prairie Fever yesterday, and it was way, way more than I'd expected. Wow!

Many thanks to everyone who bought the book, and to all of the teachers who adopted it. I am so very grateful! (FYI--I am always happy to correspond with students who are using the book in a class, and to do online/email interviews, so if you are using the book, just drop me a line).

In honor of the whole royalty thing, here's a picture that Jeannine took of me being royal. Or being a royal diva.


Karen J. Weyant said...

Love the photo! Actually, in the last few years, I've noticed a big difference in my writing. I can either come up with a great title and no great poem to go with it or a great poem and a dud of a title. The only remedy I have found is to take a look at other poets' work.

John Gallaher said...

For me, titles are more fun than writing the rest of the poem.

So I say dump "The Enlightenment," and call it, "Today I was Thinking Things Would Turn Out Differently."


Leslie said...

I confess to loving obscure, weird, nearly random titles. I like John's...

Penultimatina said...

John, I may just have to try that.

(Glad you realized who I was talking about when I mentioned the "good titlers")

garylmcdowell said...

I hate titling. I usually go with Leslie's idea: random, obscure titles... then I revisit them later to sculpt them into something passable. Blah.

Anonymous said...

I'm a sucker for a good title though admittedly, that's all I have sometimes. Rarely, I'll pull a line out of the poem to use as a title. Most times, I try to find titles that do a lot of the heavy lifting for me, but of course, that's much easier said than done. I once titled a poem, "She Finally Asks About the Baguette Missing from My Wedding Ring," feeling it revealed a piece of the story and created intrigue. I like John's title though I haven't read the poem. Good luck with it.

Justin Evans said...

The best lecture I ever heard on the matter of titles was delivered by William Kloefkorn. His book, "ludi jr." (about a precocious boy of about 12-14) uses the name in every one of his titles. For example:

"disguised as a square knot,
ludi jr infiltrates the boys scouts"

"ludi jr categorically denies
that he ever had a plan
to bump off (kill) betty jean"

"ludi jr swims underwater
until his left lung bursts,
maybe setting a new record"


Bill talked about how a poem's title should evoke movement, invite the reader in, have some kind of action. John's title does that.

Bill's major contribution to my first chapbook consists of his advising me on my titles. The poem "Spring Rain" became, "Singing Back the River" and the like.


By the way, congrats on the royalty check! Are you gunna head for Applebee's?

Penultimatina said...

Justin, I'm actually using it to order BOR t-shirts.

This could be a "you know you're an editor when..." kind of joke.

Take on May

It's the first day of finals week and I already have that loopy off-my-routine feeling. Waiting for things to grade, and when those ...