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?