View Full Version : How do you name your poems?

09-26-2005, 10:13 AM
Once you write your poem, how do you choose a title? Or do you do it the other way around?
I can never title my poems to my satisfaction. Any ideas for how to go about it?

09-26-2005, 10:34 AM
I often take my title from the most significant concept within the text of the poem or within the purpose of the poem. Occasionally I take a more obscure approach. I don't really like titles that are so self explanatory that you hardly need to read the poem, except in humourous poems. (For example, the title 'I hate baked beans')

I don't even think there is a rule for it that you can apply in all cases and end up with the best title. I often look back at my poetry and find better titles, when I do, guess what, I change the title.

So, don't worry too much about it - just realise that nothing is permanent, least of all perfection.

09-26-2005, 03:41 PM
I like metaphorical titles that can have more than one meaning. "The light of your darkness"

09-26-2005, 06:55 PM
Sometimes it's the predominant aura of the poem, sometimes it's the first line, or the last line, if it packs a punch.
Sometimes I just use the date, or date and where I was when I wrote it, or whatever was my major affect of the day.
Titles are not entirely useless. Sometimes the title sets the mood, or the context for the piece, which could easily be slanted another direction. Or else it puts focus on what you want to focus upon. Think of the titlt as the dipthong.(that's an awesome word, but I'm not sure I spelt it right)

09-26-2005, 08:06 PM
Once you write your poem, how do you choose a title? Or do you do it the other way around?
I can never title my poems to my satisfaction. Any ideas for how to go about it?

Names of poems mostly pop up in the last verse or ... well check this: Its the names of all the names of poems in a sequence I wrote and ... well only now after so many years since, I see it is a poem too! tnx to your question! Smack! ixx on the cheek!

the pulling current
lonely player
lily parts from lily from lily
a lily and naked licentiously his
the 139 steps to my room
girl on a hobbit
new evening
pastels and pink
all the names and always

the pulling current caresses
the lonely player
and pull at the lily parts

from the lily from the lily

and a lily and naked licentiously his
there on the 139 steps to my room
there's the girl on a hobbit

its a new evening

with pastels and pink
and stones
and all the names and always
there is the morning

What I am saying with this is that 'names' (titles) are actually poems too and like poems they just come! If you want to go check the sequence and see 'how' I give 'names' = http://users.skynet.be/spier/excerptslanapoule.htm


09-26-2005, 08:41 PM
For me, the Title is the most basic element of the poem. It is the first concept I come up with and write from there. Even though this approach is a little harder at times.

09-26-2005, 09:28 PM
Once you write your poem, how do you choose a title? Or do you do it the other way around?
I can never title my poems to my satisfaction. Any ideas for how to go about it?

I generally write it first then do the title. Same goes for my stories. I usually have a WIP name so I can talk about it to people instead of saying "That poem about the flower" or "The story with the guy with a pet manitee". But I usually reserve officially titling anything until I'm done with the final draft. Most of my titles come from a line in the poem (or story) that serves a greater importance to the whole.

William Haskins
09-27-2005, 02:22 AM
i use Boggle ™


09-27-2005, 04:35 AM
i use Boggle ™


Really? Oh- you are just pulling my leg!

William Haskins
09-27-2005, 05:58 AM
you are just pulling my leg!

i would never do that

09-28-2005, 02:52 AM
i would never do that


09-30-2005, 07:39 AM
I've discovered that a great way to get a title is to use something that is not in the poem itself. Something that adds to the poem, giving it a new dimension. This forces the reader to consider the title in the light of the rest of the poem. Let's look at Alphabet's poem "Vicarious submission 2"

[For the text of this poem, go to http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19679]

This poem is crying out for a proper title. At one time, I would have just gone with the first line or something else from the poem like "Words." But that doesn't really add anything. Instead, how about playing with the idea of dyeing and use a title like "Ikat", or a mythological character like "Iris". Or we could play with the seeping idea and call it "Osmosis." Did Alphabet have a particular poem in mind in line 1? If so, that could be mentioned in the title. The last stanza suggests the word "Conduit" to me. (Some poem is using the reader as a conduit to spread its effects in a particular environment.) In other words, make the title do some work.

Bill B.

10-05-2005, 05:24 AM
I choose a title basically by looking at the main aspect of the poem. What ever my main point in the poem or the reason for writing the poem is how I come up with the title, or on some of mine poems the title is the first line of the poem, but that is only if the first line is really catchy.

But it does all depend on how I feel about the poem. The main key is feeling, I think. Ask yourself how do you feel about the poem and go from there.

From one poet to another:)


10-05-2005, 05:40 AM
For me, the title always comes after writing the poem. Like others here, I often use the main idea, often the first line or last line; other times I use a more metaphorical title, one that might have more than one meaning for the poem. I don't spend a lot of time belaboring over it; I figure I can always change it later if a better idea comes along.

10-05-2005, 05:51 AM
I found the following advice to be very helpful and in synch with my technique.

Create a hook. Just like the reporter or novelist, you need to capture your readers’ interest immediately. The opening line of a poem sets the tone of the piece and needs to be interesting, powerful even. Ideally it will convey a striking image or emotion. Your opening line must encourage your audience to keep reading, because if it doesn’t, they won’t.

It's an excerpt from an archived AW article, titled, Crafting Publishable Poetry by Kate Robinson.

10-05-2005, 07:05 AM
Hi, JR, That's a really good question! I usually wait 'til the end of my poem and then try to incorporate the theme of it and write several possiblities. Then I narrow it down to one I like the best.

12-07-2005, 02:58 AM
I wait until I've written it, then choose one single word from the poem, or that gives the sense of what I'm trying to convey...sometimes better than the verses themselves! Failing that, I give it a throwaway, working title, like 'villanelle' (how original) or 'triolet' until something strikes me. Lately I've been challenging myself to find one, single word that names the poem...difficult but rewarding, and it teaches me to be concise.

William Haskins
12-07-2005, 03:17 AM
i never really thought about it, so it would be pretentious to act like i have some rational, deliberate method. i went back and looked at 65 poems of mine and they shake out something along these lines:

title is all or part of the opening line: 19 instances

title is the end-line of the first stanza: 1 instance

title is a word or phrase that appears somewhere else in the poem (other than the beginning): 15 instances

title is a word or phrase that appears nowhere in the poem, but rather encapsulates the theme: 27 instances

title is a study and uses "on" and the subject (example "on friendship"): 3 instances

there ya go.

12-07-2005, 10:31 AM
The title is the easy part. It's what comes after the title that's hard. Just ask my satisfied customers....billions and billions served.

(but seriously - I title after the piece is written - but I do have a 'stash' of titles waiting to be used.)