Well, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how I’m going to redo my poetry section, and I think I’ve come to some conclusions. I would like your comments though, since the whole point of this exercise is to organize hundreds of poems in a way that simultaneously reflects an artistic presentation (thus keeping me happy) and is easy to figure out and navigate (thus keeping you happy).
Among my three basic ideas (which I’ve talked about before; go peruse the Site Blog), I prefer the idea of improving upon the ‘collection’ organization that I had been using before. That said, I want the new system to be somewhat drastically different than the old one. Here is what I propose:
Under the new system, poems will all be individual content items (and you’ll be able to rate and comment individually on any poem). Rather than categorizing each poem like I categorize fiction or nonfiction, they will be separated into collections (each with a stunningly creative title like those you all know and love).
What’s different is that collections will no longer be tied to a particular set of poems or a particular length. I’ll be able to move poems around and reorder them at will. One collection might have 40 poems in it, another might have 5. Rather than a set collection of a particular 13 poems (or thereabouts), collections will be dynamic and regularly-improving. When I write new poems, they won’t be plopped into a catch-all “individual poems” category or hoarded and released in-bulk with a new collection; instead, new poems will be placed in whatever collection is most appropriate (or into a new one) at whatever position it fits best.
The default arrangement of the individual poems within a collection will be one that I have selected (thus, I retain artistic control over the order of poems in a collection), but you will have the option to re-sort and search them just like you can resort and search content in any other part of the site. Also (as you can with any part of the site), you’ll be able to click into the first poem in a collection and use the ‘next’ link at the bottom of the page to move through them all in order.
So let me use an example (and I forewarn you that the particular poems and collections that I mention might not end up how I describe them here—this is just an example):
I wrote three poetry collections in 2001 about Sheena (bear with me, Sheena ;-)). They were called “Under the Streetlight,” “The Long Ride Home,” and “Lather, Rinse, Repeat.” Because the first two, and the first part of the third, all dealt with the same subject matter and tell different parts of the same story, I’d put those all together into one new collection.
So if you clicked into the poetry section, listed on the first page (the same way the different categories are listed in the other sections) would be a new collection likely titled “Under the Streetlight.” If you clicked into that, you would get a list of all 30 or so poems (and probably some random other ones from other old collections) dealing with that theme, all listed in some logical order.
If I wrote a new poem about something that happened with Sheena way-back-when, I would find an appropriate place among the 30-something poems on “Under the Streetlight” and put it there.
Ultimately, some collections would look pretty much the same as collections that have been presented before (“Good Morning, Ariana” and the other strongly-conceptual collections for example, would be mostly unchanged). Others would be completely redone and reorganized. Some of the old titles might make it through, some might disappear, and new names and collections might form. I won’t know the details until I get really immersed in the process.
After the initial mass-posting of poetry, new poems will be advertised on the front page, RSS feed, and LiveJournal feed the same way all the other content is. Additionally, there will be a ‘most recent’ feature to show all poetry in chronological order. So while I’ll have artistic control over the default presentation, the new system will be very flexible and hopefully as easy to figure out as the rest of the site.
Anyway, I welcome all of your comments. I’d like to get started on the reorganization sometime soon, so you have a limited time to make your opinions heard :-).