Next Line, Please

Looking for Line One

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By David Lehman

June 28, 2016


 

The title search has yielded a bounty of excellent titles. An animated exchange between Paul Michelsen and Charise Hoge yielded the phrase “Lucky you,” which I take out of context and elevate into our title: “Lucky You.” Now we need an irresistible first line.

But first let me mention some of the imaginative possibilities that people put forward. Christine Rhein tells us that her “suggested titles are found headlines”:

  1. What They Teach You at Umpire School
  2. Woman Skydives to Celebrate Her 87th Birthday
  3. Thieves Steal $18,000 Worth of Exotic Snakes
  4. Your Coffeemaker is Watching You

Number four in particular won votes.

Millicent Caliban came with three fine candidates:

  1. Separation Anxiety
  2. In the Cloud
  3. Endangered Species

People voted for “In the Cloud,” and I could see the merit of “Endangered Species.”

Angela Ball proposed a possible “steal from Ashbery-inspired composer, Eric Salzman: Nude Paper Sermon.” Love it. I also love “Title Search” itself, but the fact that Ashbery has written a poem of that title stayed my hand.

I also responded warmly to Charise Hoge’s suggestion that “Midnight in any Time Zone” would make a plausible title.

So we have a title. And I submit it is quite a good one. My favorite word in the language is probably “you,” and “luck” is a concept to conjure with. In my experience, the more (arbitrary) rules there are, the better the result, so I would ask you to write a line that includes a color, a flower, a verb, and (in honor of the Fourth of July) the word “independence.” How long will the poem be? That depends on us. With thanks to all …

Deadline: Monday, July 4, midnight in any time zone.

 

 


David Lehman is a poet and the general editor of The Best American Poetry series. He teaches at The New School in New York City.

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