I will continue now with the second part of the guide to creating poetry collections for new and young writers. I will explain some common mistakes, detail the importance of knowing your audience and the contribution of a strong epilogue to tie the whole collection together.
Some common mistakes in creating a poetry anthology are: continuity lapses, drift from theme, poor overall flow, and an ending that lacks punch or emotion.
The continuity is very important: think of the poems all working together to tell a story. In a story you have a beginning, middle, and end. The continuity of the anthology is the same concept, the poems all need to build toward the end of the collection where the ideas presented will be resolved.
The drift from the theme is a very common mistake in young or new writers in putting together an anthology. Once a commitment to a theme is made, then the creative process must flow from that theme. The poems must all relate to that theme in some capacity. I have read anthologies that tie the theme back to very abstract concepts, but it still relates to the theme.
In the beginning, new writers can drift from the theme and include some other poems they have done which they feel are better than the work they can put in the collection. Please resist the urge to do that and stick with the theme.
Poor flow is another common mistake of a young or new writer in developing poetry collections. This happens for much of the same way the drift from theme occurs. The poor flow is usually caused by a writer not having enough original work to develop a well rounded anthology. I suggest creating all new material if you must, but the flow of the anthology is very important to the reader, and if you are attempting to publish, it is critical.
The final mistake that is very prevalent in the creation of poetry anthologies is an ending that lacks “punch” or emotion. I know this full well because I have made this mistake in an early anthology that was a gift for my wife.
When I was recently pouring through my old material looking for some ideas, I found the notes, the outline, and the storyboard for the collection. I saw that my ending was really flat compared to the rest of the anthology.
The ending poem or if you end on a work of short prose or a short story type of “flash fiction” piece, it must create emotion for the reader or provide what I call “punch”. The lack of a strong ending will leave the reader wanting more, or leave the reader feeling flat, which is not the goal of any good poet. Any good poet or writer wants the reader to be blown away, wants to leave the reader inspired. The rest of my early anthology to my wife was my own work and it was pretty strong and emotionally charged, but the end was flat, and that is what I remember about that piece of work.
Know Your Audience
In summing up the article, it is important to know your audience. I wrote earlier that if you are developing an anthology of poetry to send to a publisher, you must research that publisher. If you are writing it for a friend or relative, know their preferences for how they comprehend information.
It is important to have a very strong and well written, yet concise introduction. That will set the tone for the rest of the anthology, and if it is not done well, it could be all the editor will read before discarding your work.
The sequence of the poems must also be correct, that is crucial to the success of developing an anthology. I mentioned earlier if the sequence or the flow is off balance then the reader will know, and the anthology will not be as well received as you would have intended it to be initially.
Finally, a good solid epilogue is a nice way to tie everything together. I have used the epilogue and have seen it done by other poets where they explain where their lives are now in contrast to when they wrote the collection. That may be relevant material to the reader to understand the full creative picture. The epilogue can also be used to reinforce the overall theme of the collection and to tie together any loose ends that may be left.
I wish all the young and new writers and poets out there the best of luck as you collectively tackle the task of assembling an anthology. It is my sincere hope that this article will guide you through the process to a successful finished product.