I’m again mulling over a collection of poems and discussing with Trusted Advisor just how to make it work. Trusted Advisor said, “Hm. I’m having a hard time finding a thread through all of these poems.” Then she paused and said, “But maybe that’s okay.” Even though I’ve been hearing for several years now that the themed collection craze is over, it’s mostly what I’ve encountered — actual or suggested narratives easing our story-seeking minds through pages of poems. But I seem to have fairly disparate poems here, and is that okay? I have poems that may lead a reader to perceive a narrative, but ultimately that anticipation will be stymied. Or do I seek to establish some kind of thread, even if it’s somewhat manufactured? If it’s just continuity of the kind of imagery I use, is that enough? A bunch of poems referencing rivers, e.g., or rocks? Or is that tiresome? Do I need to be able to answer the question: What is this collection “about”? I think the tricky thing with an unthemed collection, perhaps more so than one that carries the reader along a narrative or otherwise stepping-stoned path, is that every poem has to be killer. Wherever the reader encounters the collection has to be dynamite. Yikes. On the other hand, I’ve encountered two collections recently in which I tried to dip here and there into the collection, only to find the poems kept me out. It wasn’t until I started from page 1 and read on through that I realized what the poems were up to, that I “got” that this was a narrative situation at work. So should there be a label on a poetry collection — “Start Here” or “Enter Willy-Nilly”?