Putting the Title After

Something you may have noticed in a previous post (such as here) is that I put the title after the poem. One of the choices I’ve made for this book is that I am putting poem titles after the poem. This is a deliberate choice, not just an affectation to make me stand out from the crowd (although being a little different is a nice side benefit!).

The reason is that I view the title as an extension of the poem, like a limb. It is part of what the poem stands on. When you have a title before the poem, it acts as an introduction or even like an abstract, a summary. I don’t like the summary aspect – I feel that the poem can lose some of its punchiness, some of its power, its ability to surprise the reader. With a title before the poem, the poem has to compensate for the expectations set by the title.

When the title is after the poem, it is like a concluding statement rather than an opening one. It has a power all its own. It is like a bow, tying up the poem’s loose ends (of which there hopefully aren’t that many) and making it more presentable. It’s like a little comment at the end. It can even change the whole meaning of the poem.

For example, read the poem below. Think about it a moment, then read the title. Doesn’t it feel different than it would if the title were before the poem? It wouldn’t have the same power, I don’t think.

In the wrong hands,

Your secrets and my past

Are weapons.

I have the wrong hands – Adrian Reese

What do you think of this choice? What pros and cons do you see for the placement?



1 thought on “Putting the Title After

  1. I think that is quite clever… the implication of the poem (at least to me) is that of course, your secrets are safe with me, as is my past — I am not looking to weaponize either.
    But wait, oh, you *have* the wrong hands? Than all are weapons. Can I trust you not to deploy those weapons out of your own forbearance, or must I arm myself – sort of a MAD approach to relationships.
    I think you made your point quite well.

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