Thursday, November 29, 2007

On Putting Together a Poetry Manuscript

Poet and novelist Cheryl Snell invited me to meditate on this process at her blog, Shiva's Arms. Today my essay "Soft Landing" went up. As I reread it, it occurred to me (a) how kind it was of Cheryl to invite me to guest-blog and (b) what a tough subject so little written about this is.

I have one book on the topic, Ordering the Storm. I recommend it, although I find its essays uneven and sometimes maddeningly self-referential. Most pieces come down to the famous "laying all the poems out on the floor and picking them up in the right order" recipe for manuscript development. One or two dare to point out the obvious: screeners in contests probably only skim the first and last few poems of your manuscript. But after reading this, I wanted much more on the topic. So I wrote my essay, and now I'm looking for others. Do you know of any?

Karen Weyant has a discussion of the above book and the ms. creation process on her blog.

And here's an idea: a poetry collection -- on the assembling of a poetry collection. (Kidding! Sort of.)