The Art of Titles


(Jeannine wrote about this anthology of poems over on her blog, and I was thinking about posting this comment there, but then thought about it some more and realized that while I do think I had a valid comment, it might not be appreciated in that context. So rather than stir stuff up that probably doesn’t need to be stirred up, I thought I would just put it here.)

The title of this book — "The Art of Losing" — bothers me for some reason. I am not sure that I can fully articulate what that reason is. But perhaps it has something to do with the fact that — as I understand it, anyway — any "art" is deliberate, purposeful, contrived and directed, while "losing" (death, in this context) is otherwise: most often passive, accidental, unintentional, and simply inevitable. How it is possible to have an "art" of "losing" eludes me… at least at the moment.

There is also the sense, in the use of the word "Art" in a title like this, that the idea is to become "good" or "skilled" at losing. I don’t get that. I can see getting "good" at dealing with grief — that could be helpful. I know from personal experience how grief, untended, can ravage you. But while there is certainly something to be said for learning how to cope with loss and the grief and pain that can come with it, I don’t know if becoming "artful" at loss is a good thing. If loss doesn’t touch you none-too-gently, is it really loss?

Perhaps I am being particularly dense today.

All of the above being said, however, I am sure — given Jeannine’s high standards and perspicacity in such matters — that the book, as she points out, is full of poems that were well chosen for their intended purpose. That there might be a better title for the collection is a minor point. — PL

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One response to “The Art of Titles

  1. Oh, I LOVE these photos. Jeannine’s expression is wonderful and I’m grinning as I type these words.
    Thank you for sharing!

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