April 9 2017- National Poetry Month: The List Poem #1 Madlibbing


During April I will try to update daily with new writing exercises and tips, links etc. Go National Poetry Month go!

For today's poem I want you to write a list poem about vacation.

To formulate the poem I feel that it's important to get a few lists to base it off of. So, here's what we're going to do: Make some lists, then write the poem. Sounds simple enough.

Step 1: Lists
List 1: List 5-10 items that you brought with you (as the narrator) on the trip.
List 2: List 5-10 items that you either purchased, or considered purchasing on your vacation (this isn't just trinkets and souvenirs, but food, toiletry emergencies, first aid stuff, large items like boats, condos, cars, unique items etc).
List 3: List 3-7 negative or distasteful notions of the place or people of where the poem vacations or where the narrator is from (stereotypes, weather, geography, shopping, whatever negative you can think of).
List 4: List 3-10 things that you missed while on vacation or which you miss from the vacation once returning home (at least one from home).
List 5: List 3-7 specific place names at the vacation location. Don't be shy about googling.

Step 2: Expanding
For each list pick at least three to five list items and write a note (a sentence or two) about it.

List 1 expand on how that item is used back home and how it was used on the vacation.
List 2 expand on how the thing that was purchased or almost purchased was different from a similar object back home.
List 3 expand on your experience with that stereotype or idea of the place whether confirming or repudiating it.
List 4 expand on what it was that you missed about the item/thing. At least one of the list items must be something you miss from back home.
List 5 expand on either the very specific location of that place (either something temporal that you remember or imagine, like a person wearing a hot pink hat or a fruit car, or something more concrete like directions to another landmark or item from the list. Interweave place directions a couple times when possible.

Final expansion: In one or two sentences describe anything memorable about traveling whether to, from or while you're there.

Step 3: Assembling
So now you have a bunch of lists, and a bunch of sentences. This will be a messy file/piece of paper, don't worry. Insert a page break and start this with a blank canvas. There will be copy/pasting here to the general poem shape.

1: From each expanded list pick two sentences, and three other items but just the list item.
2: If a poem doesn't leap out at you from those start the poem in this general format and then mold that wad of clay into a unique piece of your own.

Warned of __(two or more List 3 items without the expansion whether or not they're expanded upon but be sure to include one that was expanded)___
I was more concerned about __(two or more list items from List 1 including one of the expanded sentences. )
Instead of ___(include a different item from List 5)
I found ____(three items from List 2, no expansion),
my ____(one item from List 1 that might be carried if applicable)
__(mode of transportation)___ down/by/past ___(two expanded items from List 5)
__(three items from List 4 including one expanded sentence)__
My __(expanded item from List 2)__
__(Expansion from List 3 item used at the beginning of the poem)
while I thought of/pined for/dreamed of __(the List 4 expanded sentence about something from home)___.
Bookended with __(final expanded sentence about traveling)__ and a little melancholy,
__(1-2 items from List 2, at most 1 used already, but switch the wording up a little when possible)__ and ___(List 4 item that was expanded upon).

Step 4: Polishing
Now this is going to be very jumpy and awkward. It needs some connective tissue. Smooth it out, and look carefully at your verbs, and be sure your adjectives really earn their worth or cut them. They're the easiest excess to trim usually. Have fun and write that piece!