Poetry Reorganization Status Update

In the never-ending saga of rebuilding my poetry section (see the original plan and my last update), I’m happy to report that things are going reasonably well.

So here are some semi-final tallies (keep in mind they’re still subject to change) . . . after accounting for all the ‘lost’ poems, homogenizing the files, eliminating duplicates, and so on, there were 657 poems (this still included some duplicates, but only when the versions were significantly different). Among those, 292—about 44 percent—will not be published on this site in the first run.

The remaining 365 poems are split into eleven themed collections. The most-populous collection includes 45 poems, and the least-populous has 14. The poems in each collection—and the collections themselves—will be presented by-default in a specific order.

One of these collections, tentatively titled Originals, is unique. The 34 or so poems in this bunch are generally of a lower quality than the poems in the other collections, but are worth including for some reason. They are often earlier versions of poems published in other collections, turning points in the development of my style, or notably experimental. The Originals collection will be randomly organized, and will only be available to registered users of Off on a Tangent (all other collections will be available to all).

Many of the poems in these 11 collections haven’t been published in a long time, and some have never been published at all (so even my biggest fans will have new things to find). Also, I will go through the 292 unpublished poems now-and-then and bring a few up to my current standards to be put on the site. Don’t think they’re just going to sit forever in the dark corners of my hard drive!

The big, outstanding piece of the project that remains to be done is dating the poems. My priority thus far has simply been to get everything sorted and labeled and formatted in a consistent manner. Now, I have to start figuring out what to put as the date for each poem when it is published.

On a few poems, I actually jotted the date on the original draft. I will use that when it is available. In other cases (ie. most of the time), I will approximate the date of the poem based on the date of the collection in which it was originally published under my old organization system.

Poems that have been reworked or adjusted to any extent are a little more challenging. At which point does an edited poem stop being a revision of an older poem and become a poem of its own? This is especially pertinent because I am adjusting and improving these poems as I work with them (often making minor edits, occasionally reworking large sections), and many poems have been through one or two major edits in the past.

So, this is what seems most logical to me:

  • If the content of a poem is largely the same as it was written originally, I will use the original date.
  • If sections of a poem have been removed (even large sections), but the remaining content is largely unchanged from the way it was written originally, I will also use the original date.
  • If a poem is more than 50 percent changed, I will use the date on which the edits occurred.

As for a timeframe on going live with the new poetry section, I still have no idea. The dating task is still a big ball of complexity that will take time, and even once that is done, the actual posting process will take a while. I can’t give you a very good estimate now because both of those things depend on how busy the rest of my life is.

But things are still moving forward, and there will still be a poetry section . . . someday.

Scott Bradford is a writer and technologist who has been putting his opinions online since 1995. He believes in three inviolable human rights: life, liberty, and property. He is a Catholic Christian who worships the trinitarian God described in the Nicene Creed. Scott is a husband, nerd, pet lover, and AMC/Jeep enthusiast with a B.S. degree in public administration from George Mason University.