Looking for Long-form Latitude

So this week, I’ve been researching long-form poems, trying to decide how to structure one I have written. Specifically, I’m trying to get a feel for how connected various sections must be, and for how much of a narrative thread needs to run though the poem as a whole. I’m also looking at how other poets handle subheads within long poems.

A cursory search turns up many long poems that number subsections without subheads. A few use subheads, such as Robert Bly’s “The Hockey Poem.” Then, I came across Wayne Miller’s collection, “The Book of Props.” It opens with a serial poem called “Sleep Suite,” which comprises eight “subpoems” each with its own subtitle, but for the most part each one flows into the next.

My project began as a series of 28 poems based on the Bible’s book of Matthew that I had envisioned has a standalone collection. But as I was resequencing another manuscript, it occurred to me that the 28 poems could fit quite well in the larger collection. Suddenly, I had a 28-part serial poem, and now I’m trying to justify that shift. The main problem I’m finding is that because the poems originally were meant to be self-contained, they don’t flow one into the next, as in Miller’s poem.

So I’m seeking similarities with other poets’ long-form poetry, and at the same time wondering if the biblical subtext is a strong enough thread to weave the disparate poems into a single serial poem.

Any thoughts?


~ by ericedits on March 25, 2011.

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