Poems that Fit Together

In thinking about my portfolio due (thankfully!) the 14th of December, I was considering how poems ‘fit together’. Dr. Smith asked us to consider how one poem leads to another, the order we place the poems in.

This makes me nervous. No matter what poems I choose to pick (be it a specific set of science poems that “go” together, like a put-together outfit), I can’t imagine deciding how I’ll arrange them. Does each poem leave a lingering aftertaste, that affects the poem after it? How does it affect it? How do you decide, then, how to move from one poem to the next? Is it based on sound, emotion, content, narrative, narrator? What elements, what combination, do you use to connect your poems together?

Or is it more about the poet (not just in this case, but all cases) – showing how we’ve grown, through the process of these works? Do we save what we are most proud of for the end, to pack a punch, or put it at the beginning, to draw people into reading the rest? Do funny, sarcastic, cheeky etc poems work better for beginnings, so that people don’t leave our works behind as too sad?

In some respects, I see cases where – very clearly – I will want to put certain poems first. If I ever due a chapbook, where the vocabulary builds, the less vocab-dense poems will be at the beginning and the more dense at the end. Is this the same with content, however? Are all arrangements supposed to be building toward a final point, a message, a moral?

It is especially intriguing because, this semester, I’ve begun to branch out a little – write more specific scientific poetry and less word-nostalgia poetry, but poetry with narrative to it beyond the sounds of the words. In a showcase of several works, do I want there to be a cohesive thread so that one doesn’t jump from poem to poem with a spinning head (I did not mean for that to rhyme)?

How are you all thinking of arranging poems, and choosing poems to include?

2 Replies to “Poems that Fit Together”

  1. Hey Meghan,

    It’s a strong love/hate relationship I have with organizing my portfolios. I’d say I usually feel most satisfied when I do this: save my personal favourite for last. How do you want your collection to effect the reader emotionally? Usually my favourite is often the one packed with the most emotion and I want that one to have the strongest influence.

    It’s hard with this portfolio in particular because I’ve been bopping around with different themes and styles. Usually when I collect poetry, they have a sense of symbiosis about them, so you’re not in this boat alone. Like poems, I think that the structure of your portfolio plays a huge part: what are you trying to emphasize? If you have a giant three page poem, would it work for you to follow it with a two line poem? It would be jarring, but is that the effect you’re going for?

    Just have fun with it!


  2. I’m sorry to Dr. Smith but two of the hardest things I have ever had to do in his class are organizing my portfolio and not move while seated. I have to move when I’m seated, I can’t stay still. But anyway that’s not really what this comment is about, this comment is about how organizing portfolios is very hard, at least for me. I talk about so many different topics in my poems and most of the time I can’t find things that made them lead into each other. What helped me out last semester is that we had to meet with other poets in the class and they told us how our poems linked with each other. So that made my work easy for me, but we really don’t have that now.

    My plan right now is to try to create a narrative with my poems, even if they are not related what’s so ever. Also, what could I think could work is finding a main idea to put your poems under and to see how many you can fit in that idea. Or maybe you could find a character in your poems that you believe you can link your poems with.

    Thanks for posting! And thanks for reminding me of the due date!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.