Ordering Collection Contents – #Lettersfromladyn

To whom it may concern :),

One of the most difficult aspects of putting together the collection, for me, was gathering the work into some kind of coherent running order.

The work in both ‘Darkhaired’ and ‘Night Divers’ was created over a timeframe rather than to a theme – although, that said, I am in great agreement with something I’d heard Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill say at one time about how poems actually collect around a subject even if you believe you are working in a whole new universe in each individual poem.  In retrospect, there does seem to be an underlying, obsessive working out of things. At least at my end.

For ‘Darkhaired’ the order kind of apppeared under my hands…after about 10-15 different runs of creating the pamphlet.

For ‘Night Divers’ I was bewitched, bothered and bewildered. I had about twice the amount of work and no shape and make to it. I was lucky to have a title that stayed the course. I asked for suggestions and it was said to me by more than one (and very helpfully as it turned out) that there is a kind of inspired magic about composing the collection, in the same manner that you’d find in the composing of a poem (I think the magic you find in the editing process is in question here – when you find a word and it’s totally throwing the right kind of shadows in every direction, for example).

I think it was Sinead Morrissey who had mentioned the possibility of finding gaps that needed to be filled, in the process.

And so I shuffled the pages like a deck of cards, I dropped them from a height and saw if an order would emerge from where they fell, I left my printer to spew them out in a mighty scatter on the hall floor, I created an external-structure based on the movements in Night Divers (the poem), and after awhile something did begin to take.

And in a rather magic manner – a gap appeared – and a in a rather magic manner – it was filled. (That’s a story for another time). After awhile something ressembling a final order began to emerge, for good or for ill.

What I wanted to share is something that I found very useful thWP_20170316_10_27_45_Proat I only happened upon very late in the day.

In one of the final edits, I discovered two overleaf verses had gotten lost. When we added them back the resulting extra page messed up what was appearing on the left and right page – which also plays a part in laying things out as I discovered.

In order to get a visual perspective I laid the pages out – side by side – on the floor in the order they appeared, and immediately I could see not only what was falling on the left and the right hand pages, where the ‘overleaf’ poems were splitting, but also what came before and after at a glance – and further back and futher forward. I wished I’d thought of this strategy much earlier in the process – so I thought I’d put it out there should it be of any help to anyone.

In the meantime, happy collecting!

Night Divers (Templar Poetry, 2017) launches at Keats House, London, on the 25 April.

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