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Titles We Have Known


PUBLISHED: April 20, 2009

The ten most common titles of submissions that we’ve received in the past two years:

  1. Untitled
  2. Aubade
  3. Gravity
  4. Prayer
  5. Homecoming
  6. Night
  7. Drowning
  8. Home
  9. Sonnet
  10. Sleep

The laws of probability dictate that repeat single-world titles are far more common than multi-word titles, which is why these are all single words. Since we receive more poems than any other genre, and since poems are more likely to have single-word titles than other genres, almost all of these are poems. These don’t represent a huge percentage of our submissions (we received seventeen works entitled “Untitled,” for instance), but they do stand out for their frequency.

Oddly, there’s no overlap with the top ten from the last time we did this.

21 Comments

Thomas Harr's picture
Thomas Harr · 10 years ago
Let’s see, you’re proud of raising your subscription rates and the snark about submissions continues unabated. What’s the message here?
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Waldo Jaquith's picture
Thomas, this is a straightforward listing of the ten most common titles of work submitted to us, something that we did because it was so useful to people last time we crunched these numbers. And “proud of raising our subscription rates”? I wrote last week that “VQR was…ahead of the curve when we raised our rates a year and a half ago,” a factual acknowledgement that we raised our rates somewhat prior to many other publications doing so. You are naturally free to infer negativity in a straightforward listing of titles, or pride in an acknowledgement that we raised our rates, but that doesn’t make it any less incorrect; it is your inference and not my implication.
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Emily Lloyd's picture
From “Insomnia” to “Sleep” (How many submissions were titled “Ambien”?) ! From “Work” to “Home” (reflection of unemployment rate?)! From “Butterfly” to “Untitled” (hard to say which is worse)! From “Voyeur” to “Aubade” (did someone open the window and let him/her in?)! I love VQR for posting stuff like this.
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Carolyn Cordon's picture
What boring titles most of them are. Creative? I don’t think so!
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JeFF Stumpo's picture
So who will be the first one to write “Untitled Sonnet about Night Drowning in its Sleep” or “Prayer for Gravity’s Homecoming”?
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S Johnson's picture
S Johnson · 10 years ago
Last time: Insomnia; this time: Sleep.
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Carolyn Cordon's picture
That was a far greater poem than I imagined it would be. Thanks for sharing Greg’s poem Waldo.
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Mimi Vaquer's picture
Mimi Vaquer · 10 years ago
None of them really surprise me, yet “aubade” seems to be a bit uncommon to be so common, no?
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Carolyn Cordon's picture
Aubade? At dawn the only poem I want to hear is the poetry of the coffee make and bacon sizzling. A strange word to be in the list, I agree with Mimi.
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Eli's picture
Eli · 10 years ago
My next submission will include poems entitled “Untitled Gravity Aubade: Homecoming Prayer, Night” and “Drowning At Home: A Sleep Sonnet.” Ah, Jeff Stumpo beat me to it.
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Alex's picture
Alex · 10 years ago
Man, Eli beat me to it. I was going to say I want to write a poem entitled “Untitled Aubade: A Prayer for Homecoming” and “Sonnet for Sleep: Drowning in the Home at Night”
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Alex's picture
Alex · 10 years ago
Or one could go the other way and write a poem entitled “Dynamic Stochastic Modeling for Multivariable Probability Functions: A Sonnet”.
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Joe's picture
Joe · 10 years ago
Sure sounds like Thomas has been rejected by VQR (or other lit mags he equates with them).
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PC's picture
PC · 10 years ago
Is it just me, or does that look an awful lot like a track listing from a Bruce Springsteen album?
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Joe P's picture
Joe P · 10 years ago
I would like to see the most common fiction titles, and I think neologisms should all count as one. I also wonder how many are in the City, ST formulation.
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trulee pist's picture
trulee pist · 10 years ago
Aubade? Does Philip Larkin have you on speed dial?
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Waldo Jaquith's picture
I would like to see the most common fiction titles
I can do that. Here are the ten most common fiction titles that we’ve received since 2006: * Reunion * Homecoming * Home * Gravity * You * Waiting * Coming Home * Blind Date * Evolution * Flight We’re looking at pretty low numbers here—”Reunion” is used just six times, “Flight” just three. But these results are pretty interesting. Five of these titles are about people coming together. Three mention “home.” There’s definitely a strong theme here.
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Carol Jochnowitz's picture
Carol Jochnowitz · 10 years ago
I think it’s interesting that Thomas Harr found the listing of the poem titles snarky. I suspect that what he was in fact responding to was what he perceived as a certain impression of self-importance generated by those titles when they were all gathered together in one list. Which I don’t think necessarily shows something objectionable about them: After all, what’s more important than poetry?
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Waldo Jaquith's picture
We’re the first to admit that we publish poetic concepts that seem from afar like clichés. I don’t know that there’s anything inherently wrong with titling something “Aubade” or “Night.” And when I say “I don’t know,” I’m not indicating uncertainty. What I mean is that I’m a programmer, not a poet. I don’t have an MFA. My degree is not in English. I crunch numbers because I’m a stats geek. So when I list the top ten most common titles, there’s no value judgement—it’s simply a result of SELECT title, COUNT(*) AS number FROM submissions GROUP BY title WHERE status != "withdrawn" ORDER BY number DESC LIMIT 10.
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