Thursday, May 30, 2013

 It became obvious to me from the very first group workshop in France that I don't pay enough attention to the 'voice' of a poem or fully extending my voice in my poems. This comes mainly from having never been part of a in-the-flesh workshopping group. My poems end up becoming tight little image-strong pieces with little room for the voice to speak. I always read aloud my poems as I write but that's always been to pay attention to sound and rhythm rather than voice. This has been so important for me to grasp a hold of because I feel it's a tangible way I can move forward in my poems and write better. Since I've come back I've been reading poems differently, paying attention to the voice rather than going straight to the images.
     
So the week before France I suddenly realised I had realistically enough poems for a full-length collection and used the deadline of a first collection competition to force me to put them together and order them and come up with a title. When I spread all of the poems out I found that they fell naturally into four sections which made the ordering job so much easier. I gave each section it's own title and one section title became the whole collection title. All of this has put far too much pressure on the little title poem whose title seemed representative of many of the poems in the collection rather than being picked for being my best, strongest poem. However it is exciting to think I have the possibility of a collection together and a collection structure to work on and of course I want to throw my new France poems into it and other ones I'm working on at the moment.

6 comments:

Jim Murdoch said...

I think it is the hardest thing, forcing poems that were written as standalone pieces into some kind of sequence. Every time I sat down to do it in the past I gave up. I have a few poems that form natural sets, like the ‘Advice to Children’ poems you’ll have read in This Is Not About What You Think but there are never enough for a chapbook usually. I have given some thought to what I’ll do next—after reviewing Glen Ingersoll’s book I was thinking about a chapbook of poem poems—but we’ll see. I have a book of short stories to start promoting just now so I won’t be thinking about anything much else for about a year. There are times I wish I’d stuck to just being a poet; wearing two or three other hats can be a bit of a burden.

I’m glad you found the course useful though. If that’s the only lesson you’ve learned then it was all worthwhile. I’ve never really given much thought to voice in my own poems—I’ve found a voice I like and stuck with it—but the prose is different especially the short stories, to not be me and yet say things that matter to me.

As far as titles go I know it tends to be the done thing to name a title after one of the poems contained therein but there’s no law that says you have to do that. Titles are a bugger though and I doubt enough of us give sufficient thought to how our works are named; we label them rather than entitle them.

Marion McCready said...

that's the thing, when I sat all of my poems out the themes connecting groups of them became obvious so where I thought I was writing stand alone poems I wasn't really! even the poems I'm now writing are still connected to them even though I had intended to start something new!

I learned so much on the course, it'll come out in dribs and drabs as I think it all through. everything you write has your voice, Jim, it's what I like about your poems, and your kind of poetry depends so much on your voice.

I read last night that Selima Hill titled one of her collections with a poem that she had decided to take out of the collection, she said something about liking to confuse the critics :) I like this idea very much!

Michelle said...

I can't wait to read your collection, Marion.

Marion McCready said...

thanks Michelle, that means a lot xx

Roxana said...

i find this extremely interesting, that you are searching for a voice, your voice, not only as a metaphor for style (you already have your own, unique voice, i could recognize a poem by you instantly) but as a vivid, fleshy thing, which connects word and body and world...

and of course, i am so looking forward to that collection :-)

Marion McCready said...

that's exactly it, Roxana! couldn't have put it better myself! :)