It’s been a long road, giving us a new appreciation for what it takes to put together a collection of poetry, especially an anthology from six very different poets.
When we did decide to put together an anthology, our initial theme was the Greek Muses. We brought together existing poems, and wrote some new ones, each attributed to a muse.
We used Google Documents to share our work and make commenting and organization easier. If we’d had to rely on exchanging email, well, we’d still be sending poems back and forth. We used a spreadsheet to make voting for top poems straightforward and hassle-free. Margaret was our tech goddess in all of this.
Our first draft version didn’t work, so we came back together to figure out what to do instead. It simply didn’t have the overlying narrative arc that is the key to a really good poetry collection.
We looked for a new theme that could tie this eclectic group of poems together. Water came up a couple of times, and Michele mentioned the ebb and flow. With that, Mary began to have a vision. The ebb and tide of life, the heart, the world. She wanted to explore this further, so volunteered to take control and see what she could do in the matter of organizing. Once Mary split everything into different stages of life, she was inspired with the theme poem, the tide’s effects as it comes and goes in our lives. Finally our poems had a story, a flow that felt right. The others agreed.
Throughout this entire process, Michele kept us together. It was her bull-headedness that kept us pushing forward even when we struggled. Michele who got our wonderful mentors involved, and had the connections to pitch our project to InkSpotter.
So now the anthology is about to “go live.” It’s been three years since the day that Lisa Gentile couldn’t connect to the internet, leaving moderator Michele Graf to organize a spontaneous chat.
A collection of poetry is more than the sum of its parts. It’s the cumulative effect of each poem, one after the other, leading the reader from one to the other to create a unified whole. Without the unifying principle we have a stack of paper. With it we have an anthology.
by Mary W. Jensen and Margaret Fieland