The Making of a Manuscript: The Title

3 Jan

I’ve been hard at work on my manuscript, in anticipation of the Jan. 15th deadline for the Kundiman Poetry Prize, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what to include, how to order it, whether I should break it into sections, and most of all, what to call it.  I’ve got a couple of ideas:

The blogosphere (are people still calling it that? I’m so out of touch.) advises choosing, as your manuscript title, the title of a particularly relevant poem from your collection, or a line from said poem, or some other line/word that communicates something about your collection.  I’ve been surveying the poetry books I own and, almost all of the time, the book title comes from a poem in the book.

These have been percolating in my head:

Satan’s Satan

A Different Kind of Californian

Please

That Dark Carving

I Want You, Molly Ringwald

The first two are the front-runners, “Satan’s Satan” being one of my favorite poems in the collection (and I’m hoping to do some more poems about this Satan character) and “A Different Kind of Californian” being a poem that speaks to the outsider/insider experience I had as a child of immigrant parents.

I’m almost certainly not going to call the manuscript “I Want You…” (because I feel like I’d have to write more pop culture poems, which I don’t have the time or inclination to right now) or “That Dark Carving,” which seems too serious and dramatic, but I thought I should include them on my list for informational value (they may help me categorize poems into sections).

“Please” came to me last night.  It’s the title of another poem I really love and I like its dual meaning:  “please” as in a request or cry for help and “please” as in “to please,” calling to mind desire, approval, pleasure.  I’m still not quite sure.

Perhaps you can help with some feedback.  Please leave a comment with your thoughts/gut reactions/total and complete opposition to X, Y, or Z.  I can’t promise that I’ll totally be swayed by your opinion, but maybe you’ll help something gel in my mind.

Keep on keepin’ on,

Jho

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