Ponderings by Henri Bensussen, MCWC board member and
Mendocino Quill's editor, a.k.a. The Maven
Henri serves on the board of the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference. She worries endlessly, fruitlessly, and in between writes tragic poetry and comical short stories.
5 a.m. on a Sunday morning, the Maven in her rocking chair restless with worry: should she title her latest poetry manuscript “Unframed, in Blue,” or simply “Blue”? Attending a Colrain Manuscript Conference, she learned poem titles must not be trite. Titles are as important as the content they describe. It’s job is to catch an editor’s eye as he/she scans the Table of Contents, or said eye could slither right off your page and onto someone else’s.
She worries that “Blue” itself has become trite in the past ten minutes while she worried over it. At home, after the conference, she wrote a poem entitled “The Importance of Titles” and began it this way:
The Editor scans the Contents Page,
The poem expanded into a 5-stanza memoir of her chain-smoking mother, prompted by noticing, on a friend’s antique dressing table, the mark a burning cigarette leaves on wood—its smoke print. Like Hansel & Gretl’s crumbs, such details might lead you home, or leave you lost.
The Maven found herself wondering where her beloved readers find their prompts. However do they choose their titles? She would welcome some answers.
The Maven’s Ravenings appear the last week of each month. Guest postings are welcome—click on the “Submissions” bar for directions.