How To Write List Poetry
List poetry is pretty much exactly how it sounds. It is a style of poetry that is organized like a list would be. This form features an inventory of people, places, things, or ideas organized in a special way. The degree in which they look like a list can vary. They can be numbered, bullet points, or a little more loose; there are no set stanzas or meter. It really is up to you, but it should ultimately be a compilation of things resembling a list.
Rules of the List Poem
- Collect content in a list form
- Can include transitional phrases, but not necessary
- No fixed rhyme or meter
Some really famous poems are categorized as lists. Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” is technically a list poem. Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” is also a list poem. The form is very free, but typically features some repetition in style; use these as inspiration.
Advantages of the Form
List poetry is an incredible tool on two fronts: it is exceptionally fun, and it’s relatively easy. The nature of the list is short, and the power of the poem comes from the compiled content viewed together. Each item on the last can just be poetry fragments all put together. It also can act as an incredibly useful brainstorming tool for larger poems. If you were compiling a list of things that reminded you of love, you might just come up with the next great idea for another poem. The list is a very versatile, approachable, and fun poetic form.
Challenges of the Form
This form of poetry can be tricky. I find the hardest part of writing it is when to know it’s finished. Typically, I just end them when it feels right. Additionally, it is hard to find a format that really resonates with you. Should you number your list? Put it in bullet points? Be a little more free verse with it? It’s important to experiment with the style of your list poem until you find the one that is right for you and your poem.
List Poetry – Writing Prompts
Prompt 1 – Friendship Is…
Write a list poem that includes the most important factors in a friendship to you.
A comfortable porch
A 6-pack of beer
A contagious laugh
The setting sun
& the willingness
To stay there all night
Prompt 2 – Nostalgia Is…
Write a list poem that includes the most important factors of nostalgia to you.
Quoting Spongebob in the back of the bus
Riding bikes in the driveway until your friend finishes their chores
Damming up the creek bed until a waterfall forms
Watching it all slip away
Prompt 3 – Aromatherapy Is…
Write a list poem about certain smells that bring you peace or joy.
from campfires, sure
but mostly from the puffs
of my father’s cigars
Prompt 4 – A Bad Day Is…
We all have bad days. Write a list poem about what go into yours.
A positive Covid test
103 degrees, internally
Too much TV
The ninth steaming cup
of Eucalyptus Mint Tea
Prompt 5 – A Dinner Party Is…
Dinner parties can get wild. Write a list poem about what you want at an ideal dinner party.
An unexpected murder mystery
All the lights go out
With the candlestick
In the dining room
Prompt 6 – Your Passion Project Is…
There’s nothing better than working on a passion project. Write a list poem that describes yours.
on 64 squares
Prompt 7 – Your Fairytale World Is…
It’s fun to daydream about other worlds. Write a list poem that describes what yours looks like.
but sunburn is non-existent
and never windy
& all the birds don’t fly
away from you as you approach