poetry and prose about place

a preface for a poetry manuscript

with 3 comments


As followers of my Blog will know, I am working during these first months of 2015 to finalise, for eventual publication, a manuscript of the poetry I wrote for my ‘growing and gathering’ project (see the Category ‘growing and gathering’ for more information).

Now that the poetry is ordered within the manuscript, I have to pay attention to the ‘Front Matter’. This includes:

title:  ‘within easy reach’
dedication: the manuscript is dedicated to my husband

table of contents: a listing of the poems
acknowledgements: all the people I want to thank and the support of artsnb and the Creations Grant


The above four items are straightforward.  I needed some information about the next three:






Foreword: written by someone other than the author of the book, usually an authority – celebrates the work and provides credibility.

Preface: written by the author of the book – includes the purpose and scope of the work,  explains the origins of the central idea in the book, and may acknowledge those the author wants to thank.

Introduction: written by the author or an editor – includes information on the contents of the book, the author, and the audience.



Many of the poetry books I have in my library do not include a Foreword or Preface, and Acknowledgements are often placed in the back of the book.  I find this is true of collections where the theme of the poems is not immediately obvious.  But collections about a particular subject, such as those about history, often have a Preface or Introduction.




For example, Jack’s Letters Home (Cynthia Fuller (2006) Stable Cottage, U.K., Flambard Press) includes an Introduction. The book is a collection of gritty poems based on real letters written by a British soldier in the First World War.  The Introduction tells the soldier’s history, the story of how the letters were found and a little about the characters in the poems.




I have two poetry collections by Shari Andrews.  Both focus on history.  Crucible (Shari Andrews (2004) Canada, Oberon Press) is an insightful collection of poems depicting characters and events in the life of Saint Catherine of Sienna.  It includes a Foreword by the poet.  The Foreword includes background on Saint Catherine of Sienna, information about the inspiration for the book, and acknowledgements.


The Stone Cloak (Shari Andrews (1999) Canada, Oberon Press) is a collection of tactile, sometimes fierce, poems about the lives of settlers of New Denmark in New Brunswick.  The Foreword includes information about the poet’s connection to the community and briefly describes the history of New Denmark.  It includes acknowledgements.




Although it is not a book of poetry, in an 1843 edition of A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens includes a brief Preface, consistent with the spirit (!) of his story:

I have endeavoured, in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each
other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it!

Their faithful friend and Servant, 
December 1843.

(Source:, accessed February 23, 2015)


a salad at 'Heavenly Hash'

a ‘grown and gathered’ salad – leaves and flowers of violet, leaves of mint and dandelion, bean sprouts and green onions



My poetry manuscript has a very specific theme – the ‘growing and gathering’ of local foods.  Since all of the poems are about a particular topic, I think including a Preface is appropriate.  I want the Preface for my manuscript to:

  • be short (less than a page)
  • inspire my audience
  • include the purpose of my poems
  • provide an overview of the contents


When I was young, I always skipped the Preface of any book I read.  Now, I read the Preface first, eager to find information about the process the author followed in conceiving of or writing the book.


Copyright 2015  Jane Tims



Written by jane tims

February 27, 2015 at 6:57 am

3 Responses

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  1. I think it is wonderful to be excited about a project. And it is interesting to read how you are thinking and working through yours. I agree about the preface. I just flip to the good part. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


    February 27, 2015 at 8:03 am

    • Hi. I think of writing poetry as having two parts: the creative and the administrate. For me, the creative part is a joy; the administrative part, sending out poems to be published and pulling them together into a manuscript, is more difficult. Fortunately, writing the Preface has been a blend of both creation and administration. Jane


      jane tims

      February 27, 2015 at 9:55 am

      • Having creativity OR administrative ability is rare. Having a combination is even rarer. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person


        February 27, 2015 at 10:01 am

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