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The Importance of the Title - Gary Radice's Blog

About Gary Radice
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I'm a married '50 something' who lives near Liverpool, UK. 

started writing poetry as a hobby after taking early retirement from my role as a Registered Mental Health Nurse / Brain Injury Rehabilitation Liaision Nurse.

When writing poetry, I tend to write what I see, no matter how trivial. Themes of the seaside, railways and childhood crop up often.

Other than at school, the only poems I have ever written are those you can read here at Poetry Soup.

Thanks for stopping by and reading.

Gary    

    

    

    

    

 


The Importance of the Title

Blog Posted:8/12/2020 12:47:00 PM

I'm interested in knowing as to how much importance Soupers place on the title of their poems.

For instance:

Do you think that they are the most important word choice of all?

Do you hope it may shape the way readers approach and understand your work?

Would anyone here prefer not to give a title to their work? (Not sure if that could work at PS unless a poem's title is "Untitled")  :

When reading other Soupers' poems do you ever pick the one with the title that stands out?

Does anyone have problems coming up with a title? 

Cheers

Gary

 

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Date: 8/16/2020 1:11:00 AM
Titles are very important in my poetry experience for three reasons: first, they draw me in. It is the decoration on the cake or the wrapping on a gift. When my eye is attracted, my mind is more likely to be curious and engaged. Second, they sometime assist in the understanding of the poem. For some poets, the title is integral to the interpretation. Third, it helps me remember a poem (and locate it) long after I've read it. I like to spend time in crafting titles that will do all three things and I value the time others take to do the same. I would much rather read a poem called "Queueing for Cucumbers" than "A Poem About Nuns", lol!
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Nina Parmenter
Date: 8/16/2020 11:15:00 PM
Well, I hope the good sisters enjoyed their salad... ;-)
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Pontsho Tshabalala
Date: 8/16/2020 3:11:00 AM
You spoke it clear and loud John. I have nothing more to add. I'll also go for queueing for cucumbers?? I'm curious already...
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Gary Radice
Date: 8/16/2020 3:05:00 AM
Some great points here John, thank you for your comments. I'm particularly struck by the fact that the title can act as a tool to help remember and locate a poem. I never thought of it's importance in that way but it makes perfectly good sense.
Date: 8/15/2020 11:52:00 PM
I'm reading the collected works of Emily Dickinson at the moment. The majority of her work lacked titles - perhaps because she may not have intended it to be published. However, it's an interesting experience. However much I try to pay attention to each poem, they do blur together a little, and I think that for lack of a title, each individual poem becomes a little less memorable. It's probably heresy to say that about Dickinson, but for me, with titles, her work would be even better.
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Gary Radice
Date: 8/16/2020 3:20:00 AM
Good point about ED and the idea of her not having plans for her work wanting to be published. I've not read too much ED poetry or her background but know that she kept very much to herself in life.
Date: 8/15/2020 11:48:00 PM
I think titles can be really important, and, like Susan below, I often struggle with them! For me, a title can be used to subtly emphasise the key message in the poem. I often take my title from a word towards the end of the poem; something the reader has to journey towards - if it's not too much of a spoiler. It creates a satisfying circularity - if that's a word! In light verse, I do quite like a punny title. I may have slightly stolen that technique from our Jan ;-)
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Gary Radice
Date: 8/16/2020 3:15:00 AM
Hi Nina! Thank you for your comments. Love that idea of the title being used as a device that the reader journeys towards in a particular work. The word 'circularity' is a great word..it's going round in my head at the moment.
Date: 8/14/2020 6:28:00 PM
Yep... a tittle is important and a powerful tool to catch the reader's eyes. I struggled with one of my poems to decide on a tittle because i just pened my ideas. Today my preference is start with a tittle and it helps me to remain in the main idea with less effort. Thank you souper
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Gary Radice
Date: 8/15/2020 12:28:00 AM
Thanks for your comments Pontsho. The idea of starting with the title is an interesting one. I'm trying to think if I've ever done that and don't think I have.
Date: 8/14/2020 9:18:00 AM
Hi Gary, great blog, thank you. I dislike long titles and I think the title should draw the reader in with a few words, but admit to a few longer titles in my work, I want to make the reader curious, sometimes I use words from the first line of the poem or the last or sometimes just a title fitting will come to me just like that, sometimes it is almost part of the poem, as for haiku and all the shorter forms, I usually use one word ie haiku - storm, senryu - feelings, etc, but it depends, if for a contest I go with what the sponsor wants, I never use the name of the contest unless requested to, I find that sort of uninspiring, I can do better than that _Constance
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Gary Radice
Date: 8/15/2020 1:38:00 PM
True Constance, yes.
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Constance La France
Date: 8/15/2020 11:46:00 AM
yet, I bet the title is meaningful to the poem or you in some way _Constance
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Gary Radice
Date: 8/14/2020 10:54:00 AM
Thanks for your comments Constance. It's really interesting to find out everyone's opinions about titles. All these posts made me re-examine my own work. I've surprised myself to find out that about 70% of my poems don't use any of the words verbatim from the actual body of the poem for the title. I'm not sure what that says about my poems, my writing style or me...if anything - It just hadn't clicked with me that's all. :)
Date: 8/13/2020 11:31:00 PM
I have problems with titles...I will write fast on a certain subject and then take forever coming up with the title! I solved the problem by using contest titles I like or boat names I find at work... if you wish to draw readers then a title is very important as I do find I will read poems because I found the titles interesting...if I complete the reading, then I will choose to read other works by the same poet and the title does not matter anymore... :)
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Susan Woodrow
Date: 8/18/2020 10:49:00 AM
LOL! Well, I have a title from one I did recently called 'Alignment Guide' Now to wait for the ideas around such a name. Turns out the old man invented some spinal alignment medical device so his royalties paid for the boat. He now has to sell it cos he is wheelchair bound..
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Susan Woodrow
Date: 8/14/2020 2:53:00 PM
narrow boats named Kingfisher..interesting...no I haven't come across that name yet. Many of the houseboats here like to have fun names like 'Sotally Tober' but I didn't survey it so no writes on that one. I've had a few whose names changed after I had written using the old name so I've had to write a new poem for the same boat, and I've learnt quite a few baseball terms too! :)
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Gary Radice
Date: 8/14/2020 2:14:00 PM
LOVE the idea that you get the titles of poems from the boats :) Have you written a poem called Kingfisher yet? Apparently its the most popular name given to narrowboats here in the UK :) ...I looked that up..I didn't know it off the top of my head. :)
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Susan Woodrow
Date: 8/14/2020 5:23:00 AM
I survey recreational boats... it has come to the point where I get rather disappointed if a vessel is unnamed! :)
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Gary Radice
Date: 8/14/2020 12:36:00 AM
Thank you for your post Susan. That's a very interesting point you make about the title's importance in drawing you in to a poet's wider works. I'm also fascinated now to know what your area of work is in respect to the boats you mentioned. :)
Date: 8/13/2020 2:01:00 PM
It's flirting - a wink - a peek - a bare shoulder or Mona Lisa grin...yet it's importance holds no more value than saying "I Love You" and not meaning it. Like saying you're sorry and doing the same again. When you write a title, say "I Love You", make your actions - make your poem mean so much that the title melts in the midst of it all.
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Gary Radice
Date: 8/13/2020 2:53:00 PM
Craig, that makes for fascinating reading, thank you for your post. I love the idea of a title drawing, luring or welcoming the reader in and then the poem itself taking over.
Date: 8/13/2020 12:50:00 AM
I guess 'to title or not' is another marmite minefield Gary.One of my faves the one and only Emily D did not title and neither did 'traditional ' haiku'.With or without ,take your pick,you 'own' your creation.
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Gary Radice
Date: 8/13/2020 1:07:00 AM
I hear what you're saying Brian. In fact Ms Dickinson crops up quite a bit in Google Land when it comes to 'title or no title'.
Date: 8/12/2020 6:28:00 PM
yes
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Gary Radice
Date: 8/23/2020 2:25:00 AM
But very positive.
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Gary Radice
Date: 8/13/2020 12:55:00 AM
Harry, I'm unsure what comment or whose comment your 'yes' refers to here - were you saying 'yes' to all the points in the blog? Thanks for reading and replying. :)
Date: 8/12/2020 3:25:00 PM
For me the poem poetics is much more important than any title.Although as Jan points out they can be valuable to attract the readers eye,if that is indeed a major factor to the poet.Generally in that regard I have found a poet here attracts 'followers' who will read and comment .I am a 'follower' not in the formal sense thereof,but in the pleasure of reading over the years the many 'quality poets ' who so regularly support my contest endeavours
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Gary Radice
Date: 8/12/2020 4:00:00 PM
Thanks for your comments Brian. Some great points. Just to add to the mix, I read somewhere (can't remember where..I may have dreamt it for all I know) that if there is difficulty coming up with a title it might be that the issue lies in the body of poem itself i.e. that it needs further work. . Not sure about that one.
Date: 8/12/2020 3:12:00 PM
Asto your digression Gary,google is very effective so over the years I have had some 'off the cuff' comments from outside of PS,but your query answer would be 'who knows' .We go back to that old PS blog question of why a poem gets written in the first place'
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Date: 8/12/2020 3:04:00 PM
Gary,Titles clearly are needed to post on PS,though as Andrea mentions,PS rules thereon inhibit them somewhat.Often titles can be an integral part of the poem,my footle form in its purest certainly so requires.Often titles do not add much to haiku and similar imagist genre.In my contest sponsor role,they have no bearing on my decisions .Cheers
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Date: 8/12/2020 2:23:00 PM
I try and use a title to pull the reader in to read the poem, I think the title is as important as the actual body of the poem:-) hugs Jan xx
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JAN ALLISON
Date: 8/12/2020 3:01:00 PM
my latest poem is entitled' queuing for his cucumbers' I couldn't resist this title:-)
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JAN ALLISON
Date: 8/12/2020 2:56:00 PM
I agree with you about the category boxes i am drawn to poems with humour in them but of course i read many other poems too:-) hugs jan x
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Gary Radice
Date: 8/12/2020 2:53:00 PM
Agreed Jan. I think, too, that the poem's title (and those category boxes we tick) take on more significance when it comes to Search engines..although how much significance I'm unsure. Anyone know what the percentage of people outside PS actually read any of the poems? I'm digressing. :) Thanks for your comment Jan.
Date: 8/12/2020 1:37:00 PM
I will often read a poem because its title caught my attention. Some shock me,some beguile me and others shout "dare ya". The title is,or should be, the opening come hither line of the poem.
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Gary Radice
Date: 8/12/2020 1:46:00 PM
Thanks for your comment John. Agree with all you say. I often wonder how many great poems I've missed reading simply because the title doesn't appeal.
Date: 8/12/2020 1:14:00 PM
Also, I've always heard you are not supposed to give titles to haiku but for the sake of being able to identify them, I think it is very necessary and also it can add an extra element of interest to one's haiku.
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Andrea Dietrich
Date: 8/13/2020 4:02:00 PM
yes, titles can make it or break it for your poem even getting LOOKED at.
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Gary Radice
Date: 8/12/2020 1:38:00 PM
Hi Andrea. Thanks for your comments. I must admit that the issues regarding not being able to use various symbols in titles at PS has had me scratching my head a few times. With there being so many poems / poets to read I have to admit that I tend to choose work with a title that jumps out at me.
Date: 8/12/2020 1:12:00 PM
I think titles are quite important. I have a beef with the title heading space here at Soup .Some of my titles are questions and some of my words in titles have apostrophes or some other symbols not allowed to be placed in the title box. It really bothers me and I wish they would change that.
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John Watt
Date: 8/16/2020 12:54:00 AM
Make that three of us that have the same beef as you.
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Andrea Dietrich
Date: 8/13/2020 4:01:00 PM
it's ridiculous. Glad you two see it.
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Edward Ibeh
Date: 8/12/2020 6:34:00 PM
"I have a beef with the title heading space here at Soup .Some of my titles are questions" OMG, I thought I was the only one annoyed by this! I have so many question titles like "Would You Still Love Me?," but the title box on this site doesn't allow the question mark symbol. WHY??

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