Tightening up our titles

Joolz writes: Seeing as some of our London Undercurrents poems came into being well over 3 years ago, there are some titles that we’ve grown accustomed to, and have got ‘stuck’ with. So much so, that we’ve never stopped to ask – is this the right title for this poem? Because – of course it’s the right title; it’s been there since the beginning of time.

Now that we are nearly ready to send out mentor-honed and newly reworked manuscript to publishers, we’ve taken time to stop and think. To think about titles and what they add to a poem. And how we can make all our titles their best selves.

Reading through the contents page of our manuscript we realised that not all the titles work as hard as they could. After much skirting around the issue, we highlighted the ones that seemed to be giving away too much about the poem, so why read on? And then the ones that had a name in them. Then the titles that repeated a word or phrase from the body of the poem. And then finally, the poem titles that were sticking out for some reason, but we didn’t know why.

Then we retreated to our own spaces to lick our wounds.

Northside, I can say that it’s been a really enlightening  experience to look at these titles anew, to cover them up and ask: what is the core of this poem? What does the current title add or subtract? What would the poem tell me to put as a title if it could speak?

The result? Some tweaking here and there, and some radical rewriting there. And there. And there.  Every title now works as hard as the body of the poem. Strength and unity. 

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