Poem titles

I know a lot of people struggle with giving their poems titles, but I’m usually lucky in that respect I like to give them titles immediately after they’re written. I read over the poem and a title suggests itself fairly quickly. Sometimes – rarely – I’ll change them later. I like mine to be short, unless I’m being deliberately quirky. They’re often ironic. But what are they for?

They start off as coat-hooks – somewhere to hang the poem so I can park it for later editing, somewhere to put the poem in the current file directory on the computer. Sometimes a title is the subject of the poem. Billy Collins has a poem ‘Hell’ which is about… well, take a wild guess. Often they’re a sideways take on the subject. I have a new one on the deterioration of my senses, which I call ‘Losing it’, which can be taken several ways. I enjoy ambiguity, but not obscurity; the titles have to mean something.

I don’t very often write untitled poems, but sometimes no title is needed or wanted.




About sunnydunny

Poet, publisher, gardener
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One Response to Poem titles

  1. Jim Murdoch says:

    Perverse bugger that I am I once wrote a poem entitled ‘Untitled’.

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