Wednesday, July 12, 2006


I've been thinking lately on something Mark Truscott wrote recently on his blog, of writing poems without titles; is that even possible? There are some poems online in the Vancouver journal Forget Magazine by Toronto poet Phil Hall, five pieces individually "untitled," but, knowing how Hall works, they will probably appear in some larger grouping in a future chapbook and/or book under the umbrella of some other title that isn't "untitled." And isn't "untitled" a title unto itself?

"sixteen untitled poems" as a section or chapbook header is certainly possible; "sixteen poems" as well, to produce the feeling of nothing happening before you enter into the poem directly. Is that the point, is that the consideration? Musicians have untitled or self-titled albums all the time; Ottawa fiction writer Geoffrey Brown had the most brilliant novel Self-Titled out with Coach House Books a while back. Does that count?

It's an interesting idea, but how do you present it in a chapbook, book or magazine without the expectation of even "untitled" as your poem title?

Here's an untitled fragment from a longer work; is that something I should even tell you? Would it ruin the whole point of an untitled fragment to let you know it's part of a work I've been struggling to begin, "report from the emptied city," or should I just keep quiet about that? What, in the end, does a title even mean?
free from the end of love's tradition
, a red couch moving off the main

I would be unfair; apathy
to her final day; presume nothing

a long provincialism entering self
& readjusting view; a sentry record

of what already may have been
I've always thought the title a part of the poem, not something over it explaining anything, but the first thing you see of a poem; you can't fix the house and ignore the front door. The door is a part of the house. It's the first thing you see; it's impossible to enter without first going through first.

It's easy enough to write them, for sure. But what happens next?

How do you present a poem without a door?

1 comment:

MissWanda said...

go through the window.