Friday, March 29, 2024

Checklist for an Excellent Poetry Manuscript


What does a poetry manuscript in the 21st Century include? Here are some of the elements possible.


[ ]        Prologue Poem


This is a poem that sets up the major themes of this collection and ties its sections together. It should be short and easy to enter.


[ ]        Sections


A typical collection might have three to five sections. Fewer seem better but it depends on the work. There are collections where the work is one long poem without sections.


[ ]        A Repeating Title


This is a technique for demonstrating that the collection contains poems that talk to each other and deepen the subject matter. Such poems might open or close each section. To identify these poems with exactly the same title consider picking up a few words from the first line of the poem.


[ ]        Forms


While there are successful collections that use the same form for every poem in the collection (e.g. the sonnet is a popular form), variety shows the poet’s mastery of craft. Creating your own form and then, if possible, writing another poem in that form also shows craft.


[ ]        Poems in a Series


Poems that repeat some aspect such as subject matter, character, linguistic marker, add glue to a collection. The question is whether to group these together or spread them out in the manuscript.


[ ]        Poems that Contain Research


Whole collections of poetry might be based on extensive research but poems in a series might also operate under the magnifying glass of  researched information. Be careful about keeping end notes to a minimum.


[ ]        Metapoems


Poems that are about writing poetry. This is another way to demonstrate your knowledge of poetic craft.


[ ]         A Repeating Word 

A word or a version of a word that repeats throughout every poem of the collection creates an undercurrent of meaning to deepen the subject matter.


[ ]        Punctuation & Capitalization

Many poets have quit using punctuation and capitalization. Whatever you decide, just be consistent.





No comments: