Now that you’ve written that great poem, you’ve left it Untitled; just as the many other poems you’ve written in the past. Sometimes, giving a poem a title can even be harder than writing the poem itself. This is because a poem’s title has to include some element which absorbs the interest of the reader. This can be quite a daunting task especially for new poets who may try to perfect their poem titles.

So, this article is aimed at helping writers create the best titles their poems ever will get.

Something like the “I Have A Dream” of Martin Luther King or “Imagine” by John Lennon

Creating A Great Title For Your Poem

Choose Provocative Words

It is important to intrigue your readers with your poem’s titles. A really catchy or compelling title will ignite interest in a reader’s mind so they want to read the poem.

Raise A Question

A poem titled ‘No One’s Wish’ would suggest a conflict – what is the one wish no one wants. The intriguing title makes the reader want to know more about this wish (the conflict) in the work.

Another popular title that raises questions in the minds of the reader is “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou. The reader is left to wonder what the poet keeps on rising from again and again.

Use A Character’s Name

The use of a character’s name works quite well in poetry.

Keep It Short

The average poem title is about 3 words long, we recommend not having more than five words as a poem title. It is better to keep it short when you can. Long titles are also good, but ensure they do not miss the point of the poem.

Include the Setting

Titles such as “A Long Night In Lagos”, “Ibadan”, “Let Us Be Americans Again” would quickly bring the reader’s mind to the location (the core subject matter) and focused on it.

Play the emotion game

Mary Frye’s “Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep” is a overwhelmingly beautiful title that captures the readers emotions and makes them want to read on – no wonder the poem was named Britain’s most popular poem in a Bookworm poll in 1996 despite not having been nominated by critics.

Death has always been a strong word, this why many poets garner a lot of engagements when they produce works surrounding it. Love too is one to work with.

Brainstorming Poem Titles

Use The First Line

Many great poems have used the first lines of their poem as titles and this seems to work very well. Examples include Shakespeare’s Shall I Compare Thee,

Use Repeated Lines

What lines are constantly on repeat in your work?

An example of a work that delivers this promptly is “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas. It can be seen in the poem the statement was repeated over five times. If there is a word or phrase in your poem that seems to have been repeated numerously, that might be the title of your poem already.

Replace With Synonym Title

Once you have a title but may not be satisfied with it, replace it with a synonym that well fits the expression.

Play With Words/Malapropism

You can choose to carve out uniqueness for your poem titles through playing with your words. Tiger may be used as Tyger, Love may be switched to Luv even House may be replaced with Haus. This would definitely add some distinction to your poem title.

Check the Poem Context

Setting

Fit the setting or location that inspired your poem. You can use the location and/or time of where and when you wrote the poem as the poem title itself.

Events

Look for events that inspired your writing. It may be an occurrence your saw on the TV or a fight around you. Include the events that inspired your creation in the title so as to give the reader of your poem a reference point.

E.g The Day He Got Hit, When My Father Laughed

Mood

The mood of a poem can be used when titling the work. Titles such as “A Dark Day At Home”, “The Loner” already gives reveals a portion of what the poem is about to the reader.

Summarize the Poem

Rear and re-read your poem over, if the whole work can be summarized into a short statement, that’s probably your title right there.

Leave It “Untitled”

Yes, sometimes, not having a title to your poem is okay too – some poets do prefer it this way too. However, keep it in mind that most editors would prefer having works with clear titles to them.

Titles Rights And Copyright Law For Poets

Current copyright law states that authors cannot copyright the titles of their poems; this means any poem title is can be used, even if it has been used previously by poets. However, it is better to not use such title as another poem except in the case of a poetry prompt that requires all submissions be titled same. It is better to be original and to find your own words when giving titles to your poems.

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References

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Emmanuel Ojex

I am here to use my ART as a mean to make IMPACT in the world. Join me in doing so.

2 Comments

Che Joy · April 18, 2021 at 8:25 pm

This really helped me. Thank you

    Emmanuel Ojex · April 20, 2021 at 1:01 am

    Hey Joy

    I am glad the article was of help to you.

    Do check back for other valuable contents.

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