Should poets group their work into marketable themes?

Am I the only person to desperately count up the number of poems written on a particular theme, to see if it will stretch for a submission for chapbook or pamphlet? Probably not.

Perhaps because I have spent a lot of time thinking about the theme (for example, the effect of pollution on my local seas, or the story of forced adoption in my family) it feels like I have dozens of poems tucked away on this theme.

And yet I don’t. I have a very large number of poems, but on many and various subjects.

And trying to expand the number on a theme, in an artificial attempt to ‘fit the bill’ can result in repetition and poor poetic quality.

Of course, you could say that I’m being too literal, and that every chapbook or collection should have a variety of forms and themes, of light and shade. Maybe. But I get the feeling that many publishers want simple narratives of ‘What the Poems Are About, and Who is Writing Them.’ I can’t blame them.

What I worry about, is that this might push some of us to channel our poetic time and energy into echoing silos of stuff which are saleable, rather than opening up our thinking to wild new subjects.

Maybe the problem is with me – that I want work to be published and I’m too keen to fit in with what (I imagine) is desired. Perhaps I should just (virtually) throw all the pages up in the air and send off whatever lands in a rough pile.