Finding poetry in titles

Literary agent Janet Reid is having another contest on her blog this week while she’s at Bouchercon, a mystery writers’ conference. A distraction for those of us unable to attend, perhaps. Or maybe she’s just trying to keep writers busy doing something other than clogging her inbox with queries. I usually try to avoid these temptations, because I’m trying to write fiction in my “spare time.” But this one looked like too much fun to pass up.

The challenge was to create a poem using book titles, with each line containing the title of a book. Any book. Well, maybe not ebooks, not unless you have some mad photoshop skills. Because part of the challenge was to include a picture of the books you used, shown in the order in which you used them.

I emailed my entry and then decided to post it here too, including the high-tech sad blurry pic taken with my cell phone. I tried to choose a diverse mix of fiction, a bit of non-fiction, and then threw in a couple of my daughter’s Spanish language titles. Honestly, I’m not sure it qualifies as a poem. Unless you count it in the little known category of “seven-line, four-stanza poems that don’t rhyme or follow any known cadence.” Because then it totally qualifies. As a poem. Sort of.

Either way, it was fun. Ms. Reid has been posting entries over on her blog. If you have a minute or twenty, you should go read them. Some very creative stuff over there.

UNTITLED, DUE TO AN EXCESS OF TITLES

I knew from DAY ONE in GEORGIA
You were THE AMERICAN,
THE MISANTHROPE,
TELLING LIES FOR FUN AND PROFIT as if
they were A CHILD’S GARDEN OF VERSES,
and TALKING TO THE SUN
like a LOST DOG.

We spent ONE MORE SUNDAY in THE CHAMBER,
IN THE COLD ROOM
of LA CASA DE LOS ESPÍRITUS.
HAVING OUR SAY, you claimed.
I was CHARMED AND ENCHANTED,
trying to DECIPHER your FATAL SECRETS.
For THE FAMILY, you said.

You were CHARMED AND DANGEROUS,
a MONSTER with a KILLER INSTINCT
for THE SUBTLE KNIFE.
OUT OF THE SHADOWS, like a MOMENT OF TRUTH,
came THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS.
Not SHADES OF GRAY, after all,
but a LEGACY OF ASHES.

I’ll be GONE TOMORROW, EMMA.
SAY GOODBYE, never to MIRA SI YO TE QUERRÉ.
With THE THIRD STRIKE, my METAMORPHOSIS is complete.
For me, it’s THE END OF AMERICA.
MORE TWISTED, you,
stay in THE DARK with THE UNSEEN,
in the CANYONS of your OBSESSION.

I have a feeling it’s going to take a lot longer to put all these books back where they belong than it did to pull them out and stack them on the mantel. Or maybe I’ll just leave them there. Let people wonder.

Looking at the titles on your shelves, what kind of story do they tell? If you have time, go ahead and write a poem of your own and post it in the comments. Not as a contest, just for fun. It’s easier than you might think, given that someone else has already written most of it for you.

6 Comments

Filed under creativity, just for fun

6 responses to “Finding poetry in titles

  1. Well done, I like this! I am new to blogging myself, you have a well set out blog. A very interesting read!

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  2. Hi, Sharon! Thanks for visiting over here. I checked out your blog, since you say you’re new to it, and it looks like you’re off to a great start (and your poem is a lot better than mine!). It certainly sounds like you have some unique experiences to share, what with your work in Africa, not to mention the picture of you sitting next to a TIGER! And you’re not even screaming in terror. Brave woman.

    If I might make one little suggestion . . . think about changing your user ID or profile name or whatever they call it from figmentsandimagination to your real name. It’s a great name for a blog, but it’s sort of hard for people to converse with and get to know someone named “figmentsandimagination.”

    I hope you come back and chat with us again sometime. Just, you know, don’t bring the tiger. 😉

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  3. Melinda

    OMG, your poem is awesome! I love love love it! Seriously one of the best ones I’ve seen in the contest so far. I wish I could take part. All of my books are in boxes in my garage in Philly. With my house. And of course I am in Texas. Without my house or my boxes with books. Ah well. I thought briefly of going to Half Priced Books and buying the ones I needed but then I thought that’s just silly. I will live vicariously through you! Great job 🙂

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  4. Adrienne

    The elusive “spare time”. It’s in short supply these days. Your poem is fantastic! I enjoy these contests to give my brain a break from my five-millionth edit, and this one was especially fun, but my titles were very limited. Last month I went through a I-have-all-these-random-books-just-collecting-dust-so-I-might-as-well-donate-them spree.

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  5. Thank you! I think I got a little carried away. Once I started it was hard to stop.

    Melinda, I’m so sorry you don’t have your books (or your house) with you. I can’t imagine living in a space without books. Not sure how I’m going to reconcile the reality of ebooks with that compulsion.

    Adrienne, I know, I really didn’t have time to do this, but it was fun and a nice break from more serious efforts. Back to it now.

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  6. Thank you for your advise KD, I changed the title of my blog to Sharon Hughes’Figments & Imagination, I hope you do come back to visit, and critique my work whenever you like! Cheers

    Sharon

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