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Titles are important. So important, you'll see more posts on this blog about how to sharpen them and make them pop. The reason titles are so important is because they're the first thing readers see when they encounter your poem. The title of a poem is like a face; it makes an immediate, virtually irreversible, first impression.
A title is also like a scent. It tells the reader what kind of dish has been cooking. If your look or scent is wrong, you'll scare people. If your poem title is confusing, dull, or misleading, you'll either lose readers before they read the first line of your poem or make them wish they never read it. The title sets more than expectations; it whets appetites.
It's the job of your poem to satisfy the hunger.
Great, Daniel. But how?
Like I said, it's a deep topic. For this post, I'm only going to offer two tips. See how these work out for you and make sure to follow me at Twitter and friend me at Facebook so you'll be first in line for future tips.
The first tip is fairly straightforward: don't be boring. The best way to do this is also the easiest. Be sure your title is a sequence of words that's never been used before. It's easier than it sounds, believe me. Just take a moment to add, subtract, or substitute something from your draft title.
Here's some examples:
"The Birthday Cake" to "A Frosted Year"
"Letting Go" to "Losing Wounds"
"Echoes and Memories" to "Time Bounces"
"Walk With God" to "My God Legs"
It's perfectly fine to write a "used" title for your first draft because that helps you focus on theme. Take a few minutes after you're done writing the poem to play with the title and make something new. It's a lot of fun.
The second tip's super easy. And very powerful. After you finish your poem, read the title and the last line, skipping everything in between. Do you feel excited or moved in any way? If not, you need a new title. It's possible you need a new ending line, but in my experience, it's the usually the title.
In any case, look for that motion between your title and closing line. The more it sizzles; the better chance you're on to something good.
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