Building a Collection


I’m not sure if I shared this before but one of my goals for the year is to put together a poetry collection. What was I thinking? Lofty aspiration, I know! What I’ve discovered is that in spite of my expensive MFA education I don’t know anything about putting together a collection. At all! I don’t even know if I have enough pieces for a cohesive collection. Or a collection, period. Yes, I have a bunch of poetry but are there poems that will tell a story? Will they give readers a view of my voice as a poet? Do I even read enough poetry to build a collection?

So many questions! But I’m committed. I plan to spend the next three weeks going through my poetry, both complete pieces and those that are in progress, to see if there’s enough to establish a collection. If I have enough pieces then I definitely want to decide on a theme. If that’s at all possible. I also plan to enter some contests in case I can put together something that is remotely decent. I recently read the article “Fractures Through Time: Our Eleventh Annual Look at Debut Poets” in the Jan/Feb 2016 edition of Poets & Writers and this made me I realize how crazy the whole plan really is. It hit me in the face resoundingly that this whole thing will not likely come together this summer. And I have to be okay with that considering that I’m trying to start working on it during a cramped summer break. One of the poets, Morgan Parker, said that her collection took five years to come together. So, it may take a while.

I also plan to read some poetry collections. A lot of them!  The more that I found myself exploring this idea and wondering if it was possible I realized that I need to read more poetry. Recently published collections of it. So I’ve gathered some names and plan to use my free time this summer to dive into a few of them. High on my list are Kevin Young’s Blue Laws, Terrance Hayes’ How to be Drawn, Warsan Shire’s Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, Morgan Parker’s Other People Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night, Ocean Vuong’s Night Sky With Exit Wounds and Saeed Jones’ Prelude to Bruise.

Here’s to hoping that I can make a nice dent in building a collection. Have any of you  built a collection? It doesn’t matter whether it’s poetry or short stories, I will take any advice!


One thought on “Building a Collection

  1. Quanie Miller (@QuanieMiller) says:

    I have an idea for a short story collection that would feature the same main character. But with all of my ideas for novel length work, I have no clue when I’d ever get this done! I think that once you start working on it, you’ll figure out which way to go. And if you don’t have many poems that all have the same theme, you could always section the collection off into different themes (I think that would work???). Anyway, good luck! Let us know what you decide.

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