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Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Titles: Before and After

Here's a question for you, poet folk! Do you more commonly (a) come up with a title to your poem first, and write the poem using the title as a guide or sort of mascot, even though you may later change the title, or (b) write the poem, and only after it is finished, come up with a title?

I used to always title first. I found my thoughts too disjointed unless I gave them a capstone. The titles were the springboard from which I launched.

Then I read an essay by Barbara Guest in which she specifically cautioned against the practice of titling before writing, and very consciously I abandoned initial titles. This made writing harder for me. It forced me to come up with new modes of motivation/direction, and enthusiasm. I also thought my titles were better!

Now, I'm not so sure. Mostly, I leave titles until after I write, but I still sometimes write from the title. What do you do? And what do you think it does for you?

posted by Reen |link| 6 comments

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