Organizing Your Poetry

Are you looking for better ways of consolidating your poetry? Do you have hundreds, maybe thousands, of poems you need to organize?

I started out organizing my poems in files on the computer by years and a hard copy back up in a notebook by years.  As I moved toward taking my poetry professional, I developed a notebook called submissions with sheets that tell me what I sent where.  I also created a master list broken up two ways:
1.      Ready to be Published
2.      Needs Workshopping
Every time I wrote a poem I decided which list to put it on.  I found those two lists weren’t enough because I needed a file called Needs Work for poems that weren’t ready for either list.

At a poetry conference one speaker, Barbara Ras, mentioned that she makes a file folder for each poem.  It seems like a lot of folders but this is starting to make sense to me now.  Poems morph, grow, change titles and die. Perhaps a file for each one is the best way to keep up with all of the iterations each poem goes through.  

Finally, I have a sparse file that says Published!  I hope to grow that file in the years to come so big that I don’t even need the others!  Until then, do any of you have any suggestions on systems that work for you? I’d love to learn from you, as would our thousands of viewers!

Please leave your comments below. What kinds of hurdles do you face in organizing your poetry? Have you found any solutions?


Crafty Green poet said...

I have files: Published; Currently Out; Ready to Go; In Progress and Steal the Ideas. The last of these acontains the poems that I'm really not happy with but they contain interesting ideas for me to reuse.

I also have a list of what I've sent where which I update with progress.

I occasionally think I should set up a database for my poems, to keep track of everywhere each poem has gone, but this feels like too much work and I'm not sure i could design a good enough database!

The idea of each poem having its own folder is a good one!

Poet on Poetry said...

Great input, Crafty Green Poet! We are on the same track with our folders. I like the Steal the Ideas one. If my husband ever puts excel on his computer he promises to create a database for me. It would really help. Do you rename poems a lot? If so, how do you keep up with that.

Thanks for the feedback! I hope we get more! We can learn a lot from each other.

I hope you'll Follow the blog and subscribe by email. I want to build a good community of poets and I have some ideas I'm kicking around, like an online workshop and I'd like to be able to contact you to see if you are interested.

Also, we are new, one month old yesterday! Please spread the word!
Happy writing, my friend!

Richard Russeth said...

I use Ulysses to organize my writing. @the_soulmen

Crafty Green Poet said...

Oh yes I do rename poems quite a lot which can be confusing, I haven't found a way of dealing with that yet!

The online workshop sounds like a good idea!

Poet on Poetry said...

Thanks, Richard! On my to do list this week to check out Ulysses!

Poet on Poetry said...

Maybe someone else has a system for dealing with renamed poems, Crafty. Thanks for the input! I'm investigating forum opportunities for setting up a Poet on Poetry workshop.I'll keep the members of the blog posted.

broken biro said...

Aha! My poems (hundreds of them!) are typed up in a word document chronologically - one file for each year. But my main organisation is an Excel spreadsheet, which lists titles, year (so I can find the original), status ('send next', 'possible' or 'work on it'), whether it's out anywhere, where it's been, if it's been published, when and where. In Excel you can use filters, so I can quickly find which poems on a certain theme are unpublished and ready to go. That's the first sheet! I have another sheet for which poems I have read at which venues and when, one for competitions entered, and one for submissions (yes, with pie charts!). All very anal, I know, but it saves lots of printing out and filing space. I backup regularly of course!

I'd also highly recommend the free writers online database Duotrope for keeping track of submissions.

Poet on Poetry said...

Thanks for the help Broken Biro! That Duotrope database is awesome. I need to put on my link page. Poets helping poets! I love it!