Tips for Writing List Poems

You might like to play with some of these tips when you try a list poem.

1. A list poem just has a list of things in it. The list can be anything but I find my favourite list poems have real things in. It might be a list of objects or places or things that have happened or actions.

2. Once you have your starting point collect as many as words as you can for your list. For my poem ‘The Bonnet Macaque: An Omnivore’ (in Flamingo Bendalingo) I started with what the animal keeps in her cheeks).  Then play around with how you put them into your poem.

3. Every line can start the same in a list poem.

My dog chases cats.

My dog chases fleas.

My dog chases me. (it could be a much longer list of course)

4. Every line can start differently in a list poem.

The house has a yellow roof.

The car has blue wheels.

The tree has purple flowers.

I have a red nose because I have a cold (I don’t really!).

5. Some of my favourite list poems collect two things on a line (this is a bit like a poem I have in Macaroni Moon).  The things might not rhyme. If they do rhyme it might easy Dr Seuss rhyme or tricky rhyme (I have both sorts below). You can have surprising combinations! Or things that go really well together. The world is your oyster when it comes to making lists!

It’s raining cats and dogs

and bees and cheese

and giraffes and scarves

and mushrooms and scooters.

6. Sometimes the last line of a list poem does a twist or backward flip. It breaks the pattern of the list.

It’s raining cats and dogs

and bees and cheese

and giraffes and scarves

and mushrooms and scootrs

so you’d better duck!

Have fun. Use your ears when you write because list poems can sound amazing!

They can be fun, make you think, sound great or surprise the reader (and more!).

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