As I’ve previously mentioned–I have been putting together another manuscript of my poems–a collection. I had a few ideas on how to make the poems work as groups, but it turns out they are not happy together. I don’t think a poetry collection needs an “arc,” but I like to have the poems converse with one another in some way. Resonate with or inform one another. That’s what I am enjoying in Louis Simpson’s 1980 collection Caviare at the Funeral. I realized my aim in collecting my work was off when reading his book just recently…and now, I am reconsidering my manuscript approach. Again.
This may be one reason why, despite being a fairly prolific and reasonably well-published poet (in journals, etc.), I am so pokey at getting books into the world.
But I am considering what it means to be a collector, which is not the same as a curator. There is a difference between collecting one’s work and curating it into an experience for a reader (including oneself). Curating has never been my strength: I was the kind of child who collected things randomly, attempted to organize a doll or rock collection, but mostly just had little piles of stuff that interested me.
That’s poetry, too…little piles of stuff that interest me.
For what little it may be worth, a dear artist friend recently said that one thing an artist dares not do preparing for a show is attempt to curate it. His jobs, he claimed, was to be creator and consultant, ceding final decisions.
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I guess the book curator in this case would be an editor? Or an anthologist?
or a spouse or child who knows you as well as you know yourself.