The Hardest Part of this Book



The proof copy of A Sanctuary Built of Words: Poems of Peace, Grief and Passion has been ordered. I can’t wait to see it!

I thought that the hardest part of creating this book would be editing the poems. Writing them happened over twenty years, kind of at its own pace, and many of them were created to capture a moment in time or to exorcise an excess of emotion, so they often came quickly.

Editing was the next step and that happened over time as well. Re-reading a poem after a period of days or months can often allow the solution to rise to the surface.

Choosing the poems was not too difficult either; I have far more than 74 but that is what I chose to include so it was a matter of choosing my favorites. I did go back and replace two that I had originally chosen because one wasn’t in keeping with the tone of the book and I found I had something new that I liked better for another.

No, the most difficult part, for me, has been choosing the order of the poems. I realized at some point that the poems classified themselves into categories of peace, grief and passion with a strong thread of humor interwoven. Some poems covered more than one category but most fell strongly enough into one category to be classified there. It occurred to me to count up how many of which category I had and I found that it was roughly 40% Peace, 40% Grief, and 20% Passion. I determined to rotate through the themes in ordering the poems so as not to overwhelm the reader with the grief – peace, grief, peace, grief, passion.

I did the work and put them in order and  . . . it didn’t work. At all. It was too disjointed and helter-skelter. Back to the drawing board. This time I created a spreadsheet that labeled the poems with their main category of peace, grief or passion but then added the topics that they conveyed those themes through – motherhood, nature, relationships, et cetera.

As I looked at the spreadsheet and read the poems again, relationships seemed to emerge. This poem lead naturally into this one and these two were related in a way. I let the natural symbiosis take over and voilá! Order has been achieved. It isn’t perfect but it’s a lot better than where I started.

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