Predator’s Tongue Re-order, Take Five

Today, in between working on my application for Bread Loaf and editing “Daphne as a Housewife”, I again tried to re-order my manuscript, Predator’s Tongue. This manuscript woefully has both mythic/farm type poems, as well as really realistic poems. My thesis adviser suggested that I alternate, maybe 3 or 4 mythic/farm poems and then 1 or 2 realistic poems, or divide the manuscript into sections.

For some reason, I’m not  a fan of sections. He suggested just having a page separating two poems with a quote on it or something, not even roman numerals, so they’re not clear sections, but pauses. I don’t even know if I like that.

The problem with this manuscript at the moment is that, when I really look at it, I have a lot more realistic poems than mythic/farm poems, or too many of the poems could be transitional–they’re not quite one or the other. Most of my poems could also be considered real downers: people die, get injured, feel disconnected, alienated, etc. Then, I have these two happy poems. Something definitely needs to be done with those (either to make them darker or to cut them).

Right now, I’ve cut two poems. One just wasn’t working in terms of style. One was set in Cleveland, Ohio, and there’s not many “city” poems, so it sticks out too much. I want to add the four mythic poems I’ve been writing, but I also don’t want to do that, since I’d like to include those in a whole other manuscript. I also don’t know how adding those will help, other than in maybe balancing the mythic/realistic poem ratio. I’m also discovering that my poems fall into relationship categories: lust, love/marriage, family, mother/daughter, father/daughter. While organizing by relationships might be another possibility, some categories just don’t have enough in them. There’s maybe three lust poems, a good chunk of love/marriage poems, and maybe 5 or 6 in the mother/father and daughter categories.

I have cleared up some places in the manuscript. The first 28 pages seem really solid to me right now. I moved some poems to a place much earlier in the manuscript, and they’re resonating off/informing each other in a way I really like. I also have the ending. Well, really the last two poems. This may entirely change, but I’m glad to have some sense of a framework, an idea of “this is where I started, and this is where I’m going.”

I pushed through to the end and have another draft of the order. Some places I think are really strong, while others need some fine-tuning, more shifting, etc. For the moment, I don’t have the new poems I’ve written included. I’m going to try to  re-order what I currently have and only add those poems as a last ditch effort. If anything, I’m so glad I sat down and went through these again. The order is definitely a problem, but less of one now. I do have more fine-tuning to do, but it’ll work out. I have a little hope now.

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