Building A Chapbook

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The 2016 November Poem A Day Challenge ended a little more than then a month ago, but for me the challenge continues. Rather than writing a new poem every single day, it’s now about building a chapbook to submit in the competition that follows the PAD challenge.

The goal is to submit a polished chapbook of 20 poems. During the challengeΒ I wrote about 40 poems, which means I have whittle down my collection by half. Yikes!

I was able to eliminate 15 right off the bat. I didn’t feel they were strong enough and no amount of editing was going to save them. Sometimes a poem is just bad and there’s nothing to do but let it go!

That left me with 25 haikus to revise, edit, and organize. Haikus are often viewed as a simplistic form that doesn’t require a lot of revision, but nothing could be further from the truth! With only three lines and minimal syllable count, every word has to be perfectly chosen and placed.

The revision process really gets to the core of the strengths and weaknesses of the remaining poems. Some really start to stand out, while others begin to fade away. Five more poems were scrapped for simply being too boring or having no clear connection to others in the group.

Once I had my 20 poems, it was time to decide what order the poems will appear in the chapbook. This is more than a little overwhelming, especially since the prompts for the challenge were pretty random.

However, I feel like I have a little bit of a crutch in this department. Haiku are often organized by season, so I decided to follow that tradition. Some of my poems were obvious representations of a season, while others were more abstract. For example, a poem that mentions flowers would fall into spring or summer (depending on the flower), while a senryu that emphasizes a moment of melancholy can be filed under winter.

This strategy worked out pretty well! I ended up with fairly even groupings of poems and it just became a matter of ordering 4 to 6 poems in each group to create flow within and between each season.

The deadline for submission approaches and I’m excited to send in my entry! Good luck to every poet who participates in the competition!

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c.b.w. 2017

 

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