Ordering the Storm is an invaluable resource for poets and creative writing classrooms, offering a diversity of suggestions and opinions on the process of assembling a book of poems.
from the Introduction by Susan Grimm:
“When we have a problem, we look for advice – what do others do? Not so we can replicate their strategies, but so we can listen, consider, begin to make wordless decisions deep in the cerebral mass. It is the conversation that is useful, rather than the single instruction. This quality of conversation, the many voices, is the most valuable thing about this book. . .
1. What should the first poem do? Establish voice, authority, a certain level of seriousness? What are the different ways to invite the reader in?
2. What about the last poem?
3. How many is too long (how many pages of poetry is too many)?
4. In what ways can poems interlock?
5. Are we as committed to resolution as fiction is? Does the ordering have to do with a kind of narrative? Or are there other ordering principles—emotional change, change of approach, change of intensity (mounting?), change of style? Should we offer the best first like the Marriage Feast at Cana or save it for last like dessert? Must there be a direction and change during the course of the book?
6. If a poem is radically different in style, should it be taken out?
7. Which is the more useful question—How do the poems fit together? Or what is the whole trying to do?
8. Should the poet think about the reader more when putting together a book than when writing the poem? The reader’s commitment will be longer. Does he need more direction? Should we imagine her picking it off the shelf? Buying after a reading? Has he seen isolated poems in anthologies or journals?
9. How do people read? How do we want them to read?
10. What about the title? If we use the title of a poem, how important should the poem be?”
Maggie Anderson, Philip Brady, Wanda Coleman, Beckian Fritz Goldberg, Jeff Gundy, Bonnie Jacobson, Karen Kovacik, Robert Miltner, Liz Rosenberg, Amy Bracken Sparks, Carolyne Wright
About the Editor:
Susan Grimm is the author of Lake Erie Blue (BkMk, 2004) and the chapbook Almost Home (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1997). Her writing has appeared in such publications as the Plain Dealer, Rattapallax, and Spoon River Poetry Review. From 2004-2007 she served as Series Editor for the Cleveland State University Poetry Center.