Friday, 16 April 2010

The Difficulty of Naming Poems

I am finding the issue naming poems really hard to resolve at present. For instance, I am writing a series of poems about mini journeys (walks) and I am unsure how to name them. They are all fairly experimental pieces in that I have really allowed myself to explore my love of putting words together in new and surprising ways - using a lot of compound adjectives. This is a practice that I started in the first year of my degree course at art school, before I had even read other writers who do this (Seamus Heaney for example), but in recent years I had moved away from this practice. I suppose that I wasn't entirely confident that it worked and I didn't want my poems to become tired or repetitive through over use of a particular device.

I guess some people would say that when you have found your true writing voice then the writing will be strong enough to carry these kind of devices and maybe that is true. Certainly in this last semester, I have come back to this practice with a renewed vigour. I am not so afraid of it now as I was. Or maybe it is that as my confidence as a writer grows I become less afraid of being criticised for it. I am still aware, of course, that over-use could make the poems seem ridiculous but I feel like at last my writing is beginning to stride out confidently just like the narrator of my poem. That doesn't mean that I am not open to criticism or changing my work, quite the contrary, I think it just means that I have moved on to a point where I can play with language in a more mature way than I was able to when I wrote those first hesitant compound adjective poems at art school. It feels good, it feels exciting. I am excited, but there is of course an element of fear involved - what if I show this new work to people and they hate it? Well I suppose that is always the risk any artist takes when they venture into new territory.

Anyway, I digress, back to the issue of titles. The first poem that I wrote in the journey series I had originally called Unfurling Spring, but when I workshopped the poem other people felt that the title didn't really fit with the overall feel of the poem. Unfurling suggests something gentle and gradual whereas the poem has a more physical urgent feel, you feel like you are tramping over the earth with the narrator. I played around with the idea of calling the poem Tramping Spring or Tramping but felt that somehow that sounded too cheap. This morning I am wondering whether to simply title the poems for the places where they take place, for example Unfurling Spring would become simply Walberswick or North Norfolk. I am slightly worried though that is just too simple and I am also worried that this type of title might be too leading, especially because the reader might already have a pre-conceived idea of the place in the poem. Maybe, however, that shouldn't matter - perhaps the poem will be able to change their pre-conceived ideas. I don't want it to detract from the poem though, or to make the reader have a pre-conceived idea about the type of person the poet is because of the location of the poem. I think that this is something that I will have to discuss with my tutor in my tutorial on Tuesday and any opinions would be greatly appreciated!

p.s. I strongly tempted to call it Walberswick Footslog.

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