Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday Poetry Stretch - List Poems

I spent the weekend watching my son write out his Christmas list. It's not nearly as long as last year's, largely because he wants a guinea pig, and he wants to make sure he gets it. While he circled items in catalogs and wrote his priorities, I wrote out my Thanksgiving grocery list, my Christmas card list, and my gift-buying list.

As you can see, I'm in a list mood. Here's what Betsy Franco has to say about list poems in her book Conversations with a Poet: Inviting Poetry into K-12 Classrooms.
The list poem or catalog poem consists of a list or inventory of things. Poets started writing list poems thousands of years ago. They appear in lists of family lineage in the Bible and in the lists of heroes in the Trojan War in Homer's Iliad. About 250 years ago, Christopher Smart wrote a famous list poems about what his cat Jeoffrey did each morning. It starts with the cat inspecting his front paws and ends with the cat going in search of breakfast.
Franco also lists some characteristics of a list poem.
  • A list poem can be a list or inventory of items, people, places, or ideas.
  • It often involves repetition.
  • It can include rhyme or not.
  • The list poem is usually not a random list. It is well thought out.
  • The last entry in the list is usually a strong, funny, or important item or event.
There you have it. The challenge this week is to write a list poem. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll post the entries here later this week. Happy writing!


  1. I don't actually have a list poem myself, but since I was just teaching Charlotte's Web I wanted to note that he uses lists beautifully in the novel, and that they could almost be pulled out and read as poetry. In fact I may try it!

  2. Be sure your list poem doesn't list to the left

  3. here's mine:

  4. I will work on a list poem. In fact it might help with a poem idea that is rattling around in my head.

  5. Tricia,

    I'm looking at all the poems I've posted at Wild Rose Reader to date to see which of them could be classified as list poems. Some of the poems fall into more than category.

  6. Here's one from me:

    What I have learned...


  7. You've inspired me again. Here's my poem for Friday Poetry. What I Would Photograph.

  8. Tricia,

    I posted a bunch of list poems at Wild Rose Reader.