You Called it What?!?
The old saying is: You cant judge a book by its cover. And its true. Its also true that you shouldnt judge a poem by its title. But we do anyway. At least I do. And I dont think Im that different from most people on this point. Why else would the old admonishment exist?
So, heres the problem I encounter as I scroll through pages of poem titles on poetry critiquing forums or in the tables of contents of poetry books: the titles are boring. Let me give some examples of titles like the ones Ive seen:
* This one is real.
Now, are any of these really enticing titles? The 70,000 Word, etc. is interesting, at least, but enticing? People put their hearts and souls into writing a poem, and then give it a title that is so plain vanilla that most people would skip over it. Why should I take the time to read a poem called Rain? Heres what I expect:
And as for naming the poem after the form, most people wont know the difference or care. Give it an interesting title of its own.
So, in choosing a title, put at least as much effort into it as you did coming up with the poem idea. Give something interesting for the reader, something to catch the eye. Make the reader think, Thats interesting. I wonder what that poems about? Or even better, Ive gotta read that poem! Lets look at some more interesting examples of real poem names:
Perhaps they arent all interesting to everyone, but they are more likely to earn a click or a page turn than the earlier examples. Tainted is a one-word title with interesting connotations. Is it a poem about bad food? Is it about love gone wrong? Is it about Typhoid Mary? All sorts of ideas come to mind. So, to find out more, Ill click or turn the page.
My readers might be tempted to look back at the titles of the instances of this feature to see if I practice what I preach. A few of them are plain vanilla titles. But most of them are intended to get you thinking, What is he talking about today?
So, do the same with your poetry and writing. Make your titles earn a click or page turn.
The Gnostic Poet
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