If you are a poet, and write multiple poems, at some point you may decide to group those poems together. Maybe you are creating an eBook of poems. Maybe you are thinking about having a chapbook of poems. Maybe you are thinking of having poems on different sections of your website or blog.
If you are thinking of grouping poems together, one thing you might be wondering about is, how do you group and order them together? This can come up when you get the idea to have poems grouped and ordered. You want the order of your poems and the groups they are in to make sense for the reader and to get your message across. You want the poems grouped and ordered in the most effective way.
If you are thinking about this, below are some ideas for how you can group and order your poems.
The order they were written
This could be the easiest answer to the question. You can simply leave the poems in the order you wrote them and in whatever groups you made them (if more than one).
There are advantages to this method.
First, it is simple. You don’t have to do anything extra.
Second, it works off the idea of being natural. You are leaving the poems in the order and groups you wrote them. You aren’t overthinking things, looking into things, or contriving things. This can be an almost organic approach.
Third, your ordering and grouping might reflect something natural. If you wrote the poems over time, then how you changed over time, and what you experienced, will be reflected in them. Showing them in this order can be an effective presentation.
Fourth, when you created the poems, you might have had some natural groups in mind, although maybe not at the front of your mind. Maybe you started writing about illness. This then lead to you writing about death. This then lead to you writing about winter. This lead to writing about spring. This lead to writing about life. This grouping, although maybe not intended, can be effective.
By subject matter
One obvious way to group poems is based on what they are about. You could read through the poems you want to collect, assign subjects to them, and organize them by subject. You could think about the flow from one subject to another and use that to help you order the groups.
Another way to group or order poems is by tone. Is the poem upbeat? Is the poem sad? Is the poem defiant? Is the poem sarcastic? You could examine the tones of the poems and group them in those categories. Again, like with the subject matter, you could order the tones in a way that you think has a flow and makes sense for the reader.
Combine subject matter and tone
If you like the idea of organizing poems by subject matter or by tone, you might consider combining the two together. For example, you could organize poems by subject matter group. Then, within each group, you could organize the poems by tone. This can create a natural flow to your work. You could also do the reverse, and group the poems by tone, and then organize them by subject matter.
One way to order poems is to do so randomly. You could write all of your poem titles (or some other identifying information) on pieces of paper, mix those pieces in a bowl, and draw them out. You could then present your poems in the order they were selected.
The idea here is based on the idea, that in some instances, what a person thinks of isn’t really all that better than something random. Think of something like seating arrangements at a party. It could be, that whatever arrangement a person arrives at through hours of thought and work, might not turn out to really be better than had they just had people sit in random spots. The same thought could apply to poem ordering.
This is a bit like assigning the order randomly, but it uses arbitrary methods instead. An example would be ordering the poems alphabetically based on title. This is arbitrary in the sense that it might not have any reflection on any substantial quality of the poems. It can be a useful way to order though, because it eliminates the work and decision making that some other methods might use.
One way to group and order poems is by quality. Imagine if you wrote one hundred poems and, although you thought they were all good, you thought ten really stood out. Where should you put these ten?
Answering this question can help you order your poems. You might put the ten best poems at the start and lead with the best. You might put them at the end, and end with the best. You might mix them in throughout the collection to have bursts of extra good work.
In looking at quality, you could extend the idea past just the best. You might have three categories: good, better, and best. You could use these categories to form groups and create an ordering of the poems.