Reading manuscripts for several book contests, I've realized that the singular focus, and the extended persona series, are quite popular. The subject has been on my mind because I have been working on a series of poems about a character that I invented (not just a slightly sexier and much more adventurous version of myself in grad school), Saint Monica.
My ultimate decision was to create a ms that juxtaposes the Saint Monica poems with other poems that have thematic links, but different dramatis personae. My fear was that the persona poems would get tedious, and that if a reader didn't dig the character, then the whole book would be a no-go.
In my reading of other people's manuscripts, it comes down to the same thing as always. If the poems themselves are good, then the book is good, whether it is a treatment of the picaresque adventures of Samantha Squirrelkins, or a lyric biography of Gary Glitter.
I'm curious to hear your thoughts on both sides of the issue. Do you like reading poetry books with a particular focus? Have you taken on a project like this yourself? What makes a single-focus book successful, or unsuccessful?
PS--The above photo of blue skies this morning is my first effort with the new camera. So far, so good.