In Case You Missed—the List
I first discovered and offered a prompt on List Poetry back in 2013. The prompt produced some very creative work, as I hope this one will. To get us started, let us visit a poem that long-time pubster, Glenn Buttkus, shared for that first List Poetry prompt.
Glenn Buttkus, Used with Permission
“The 60’s are gone, dope will never be as cheap,
sex never as free, and the rock & roll never as great.”
Back in my woebegone wage-slave days,
during my 30 minute commute to the office
each & every weekday morning,
to avoid the tremendous tedium,
to cheer myself up,
to dig the moment inhabited,
to put forward some positive vibes,
always listening to one FM Classic Rock station,
I would play a little game along the way,
always the Pollyanna at the start;
knowing that rock songs are 3 minutes in length,
knowing that I had 8 to 10 chances,
knowing that the damned odds were long,
knowing that my success would be minimal,
I created two Rock Group categories;
“Best of the Best I” and
“Best of the Best II”.
In the first group I included five
of my favorite R&R artists,
needing to hear one of their songs;
In the second group I included
my next five favorite R&R artists,
and would accept songs from,
Crosby, Stills, & Nash
I would always get more excited
if I could hear a song from Group I,
but, of course, would still
love it if I heard any tune
from an artist in Group II, but
this game was complex.
I decided that if I could hear just one song
from either group, my whole day
would be ringed with rainbows;
on a fabulous day I would actually hear
up to 4 artists from both lists during
the half-hour commute,
but on a gray day, I would hear
none of them, and that day
would be dullard & flat-assed.
It was my will against the odds,
with my heart vulnerable to
the whims of cruel chance.
Sometimes I would go a whole week
without scoring a win, but hey,
sometimes I would be fat-flushed
with luscious luck, and my songs
would appear in cheerful clumps
day after day, a shining week.
This silly superstitious routine
was practiced for several years
and I never tired of it.
Sometimes, yes, I do miss the game, but
not the terrible traffic,
not the woeful worries,
not the fatuous fatigue,
not the belligerent bosses,
not the writhing work day.
Notice how Glenn weaves his lists into the context of a narrative poem, how they are not stilted 1-2-3 kinds of collections. Other poets have had success with those more structured poems. I think of Christopher Smart’s well-known poem reciting the wonders of his cat Jeoffrey, or of the superb spiritual praise-poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins. 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. And more recently, Walt Whitman.
This poetic device is just what it says: a catalog or list of things—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. To be successful, this form is a well thought-out, complex process.
Poets use the list poem for writing humor, irony or satire, opinion, descriptive poetry, and children’s poetry.
So, for today, let’s write list poems. There are 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.
• Above all, enjoy writing, reading and supporting this community of poets.
For dVerse Poets’ Meeting the Bar, this is Victoria Slotto, happy to be back at the bar.