Great discussion here regarding poetry contests and the mix tape vs. project manuscript. Having been on both sides (the fever almanac was more of a mix-tape, while everything since has been more project oriented, or in the case of in the bird museum , several small projects strung together.) However, while the poems in the first book were written poem by poem with no thought of a larger picture, you could argue that I definitely had a project there, even though I didn't really know what it was until I was putting it together and certain things started emerging that tied them all together. As a reader, at least when it comes to full-length books, I don't really tend to prefer one over another, though as an editor looking for chapbooks, I do tend to find myself drawn more to projects than mix tapes, since a chap is such a limited field of engagement. Even the more mix-tape like things we take on tend to be thematically and/or narratively tight in some way.
When I was working on girl show, however, which was a project from day one, I really felt how hard it was to sustain something so focused over the length of a full-length book. I probably wouldn't set out to do it again unless my project was much larger and more expansive. Of course, I'm tending toward shorter more focused projects these days: the narrative project, beautiful, sinister, the james franco poems, the text pieces from dreams about houses and bees. havoc is actually more mix-tapey, though I was consciously threading things a little while writing it.