Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Sum of All Its Parts.

As I put together my submissions of poetry I consider the fashion in which I combine my poems. I attempt to group them into a cluster, which are somehow interconnected on one level or another. (Madness needs method or some such!) It stands to reason that not all poems are created equal, even when they are penned by the same hand (and especially when they are penned by this particular hand). There is bound to be a poem in an ensemble of poesy that is more persuasive; is more convincing; teaches; impresses or goads the reader more effectively into the implied rhetoric of the speaker.

So therein lies the quandary, how do we arrange our poetic fruit? Do we put the freshest up front so as to cajole the reader into sniffing it? Do we entice the reader with an hors d'oeuvre of verse? Or do we just bear it all and lay it on the line in a WYSIWYG display? This leads me to a second question: Is the relative value of a submission only as good as the best poem in the lot or as bad as the worst poem in the clique?

As the pomes in question lay before me, they implore me to choose them: much like the last few kids in the high school gym that are waiting to be redeemed by the team captains when picking sides. When it comes to the very last sheet of verse to be picked, it is no selection at all is it? I cannot help but hear an audible sigh!

8 comments:

Penultimatina said...

I've been agonizing over this too (or actually, pre-agonizing). I always try to put my best work first, even though that's not always the poem that gets taken. As an editor, I've found that the first poem can set the tone for the whole submission. Even if the poem on top doesn't knock my socks off, it may make me want to read on with even more interest.

Good luck with your submissions! Once the initial shock of my new job wears off, I will be right there with you, sending poems out into the unknown.

Nick said...

Mary,

I was working under the false assumption that as my knowledge of poetics increased it would be that much easier to evaluate and choose amongst my poems those that have a better opportunity for publication (in a specific calibre of journal). The adverse seems to be true. I can find numerous reasons for choosing one poem over another. Then after more deliberation, I re-evaluate my decision and usually alter my choices. Thanks for weighing in; much appreciated.

Penultimatina said...

I think that knowledge makes it harder (like everything else).

Oh, for the blissfull days of yesteryear with the wind in my sails, without a clue and sending first drafts off to the Atlantic Monthly. Gotta love being young and poetic...and silly.

Nick said...

Ah! To be naif again...Nothing that a few hundred rejections won't fix. LOL!!

L. Trent said...

Oh man, I wish I knew the secret to sending out well-bundled submissions, to choosing poems that compliment each other. I feel like a submission shouldn't just be a pile of your 'best' poems, but poems that help each other out, that give each other a bit of a boost. But just when I think I've got the perfect five or so the poems start to swim before my eyes & I can't tell if they are even any good at all anymore, not to mention complimentary.

Nick said...

Re: "But just when I think I've got the perfect five or so the poems start to swim before my eyes & I can't tell if they are even any good at all anymore, not to mention complimentary."

Glad to hear I'm not the only one!

Patry Francis said...

"Nothing that a few hundred rejections won't fix." I love this line. Maybe someone should make a list of all the things it cures.

Doctor to poet: take a few hundred rejections and call me in the morning.

Nick said...

RE: "Nothing that a few hundred rejections won't fix." I love this line. Maybe someone should make a list of all the things it cures.

Hmmmm...there's an idea.