No, I didn’t mean listening! But now that I have your attention and ear, let’s talk about List Poetry.
List poetry has been around for centuries: think of those tongue-twisting genealogies in the Bible or Homer’s recounting of the names of heroes in the Iliad. Think of poets such as Christopher Smart and Robert Herrick, who wrote 200-300 years ago. And more recently, Walt Whitman.
This poetic device is just what it says: a catalog or list of thing—an inventory of people, places, things, ideas. But it is no simple shopping list or to-do list, though I suppose it could be if a little thought and a dab of poetic creativity is added to the mix. It’s not just a simple one-two-three—rather, to be successful, it is a well thought-out, complex process. Here, I’ll show you. Consider this classic, well-known poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins:
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Glory be to God for dappled things–
For skies of couple-colour as a brindled cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced–fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
I noticed, when researching this topic online, a number of educational sites suggest list poetry as a great way to introduce children to poetry writing. You might want to include your children or grandchildren when you approach this prompt, either expanding or integrating their poetry with your own, or writing yours to complement or contrast with theirs.
Before we move on to the prompt, though, let’s take a look at another list poem. This one by the aforementioned Robert Herrick:
The Argument of His Book
I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds, and bowers,
Of April, May, of June, and July flowers.
I sing of May-poles, hock-carts, wassails, wakes,
Of bridegrooms, brides, and of their bridal-cakes.
I write of youth, of love, and have access
By these to sing of cleanly wantonness.
I sing of dews, of rains, and piece by piece
Of balm, of oil, of spice, and ambergris.
I sing of Time’s trans-shifting; and I write
How roses first came red, and lilies white.
I write of groves, of twilights, and I sing
The court of Mab, and of the fairy king.
I write of Hell; I sing (and ever shall)
Of Heaven, and hope to have it after all.
I just realized that both Herrick and Hopkins were clergymen and both poems progress from the banal to the divine. Not a deliberate choice on my part, but I tend to dip back into time to find examples that are no longer bound by copyright restraints, and this is what I found. There are so many contemporary poets who use this poetic tool with quite different results.
Another poem from that earlier time that you might enjoy is Smart’s poem about his cat, Jeoffry. It’s too long to include here—so here’s the link. It has a bit of a divine twist to it, as well, in its own way.
Poets use the list poem for writing humor, irony or satire, opinion (I saw one arguing against vaccines), descriptive poetry, and children’s poetry.
So, for today, let’s write list poems. There’s a few ideas already mentioned in this post, but I’m sure you will come up with something more to amaze…maybe even a poetic shopping list. Take it wherever you like.
• Write your poem and post it on your website or blog.
• Copy the direct URL to your poem and paste it, along with your name, in the spaces Mr. Linky offers you at the bottom of this post.
• Hang out a while with us at the Pub, or, if you must, come back later to read and comment on other poets’ work. Please be sure to acknowledge those who do the same for you by returning the visit and the comment.
• Let the world know about what’s going on over here, using your social media sites to invite some newcomers. It’s good to include a link to dVerse on your own post, too, so your followers can locate us.
• One of my own wishes: when you comment, please leave your complete URL or the link to your poem to make it easy to get back to you. Often enough, when I go to return a visit I get a site that is no longer in use or an incomplete URL.
• Above all, enjoy writing, reading and supporting this community of poets.
For dVerse Poets’ Meeting the Bar, this is Victoria Slotto.
Last week I self-published a very short article on Kindle: Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. It’s directed at those people who are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and related memory disorders but is also meant for their loved ones: family and friends. The purpose is to help people remain independent, but safe, for as long as possible.
As a nurse, I worked with dementia patients for over forty years. About 10 years ago, maybe less, my mother began to show worrisome symptoms of memory loss. After a few years of resistance on her part and extreme concern and frustration on mine, she accepted her memory deficit and we worked together to devise a plan to keep her at home. It did keep her there, living alone, with minimal support from family, for about five years. At 92, she’s still at home, though with care-giving support.
If you know someone this could help, it’s available through Kindle for $.99 or free through their lending program. If you really need it and have no access (or no one with access) to Kindle, let me know and we’ll arrange something. It’s very simply written and not rocket science—just brief, practical advice. I hope it’s useful to someone in this most difficult time of dealing with a devastating illness. You can access the article here.