Friday, August 5, 2011

today - Word List Poems

Canoeing at Sprucelands
Photo by Amy LV

I am still at Sprucelands riding camp with our children, and this week found canoeing words sloshing through my brain.  Walking up and down the hills, watching children giggle-paddle around the lake, I began writing in my head.

In Zen and the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury explains how listing words, especially nouns, sometimes helps him to generate story plots.  This week's poem is a list of words, dropped one-at-a-time into a poem.

 Students - favorite poems stay with us.  And one of my favorites is Lee Bennett Hopkins' poem "Good Books Good Times" from his anthology with the same title.

Lee begins his poem :

Good books.
Good times.
Good stories.
Good rhymes.

He ends with these lines:

Good stories.
Good rhymes.
Good books.
Good times.

Can you see how Lee's last four lines are the same as his first four, only switched?  When I began writing my poem for today, I did not know how it would turn out.  I only knew one thing:  I wanted the first and last two lines to switch.  I knew this because I have been carrying a favorite poem around in my head for a while.

You might want to try this - write a list of words and then move them around.  Play with rhyme.  If you can't find rhymes you like, try some different words.  For me, such an exercise feels like skipping stones across a lake.  Some jump easily and sound good, and some sink to the bottom and don't stay in the poem  Either way, it's fun to throw both stones and words around.  

Do you have a favorite poem in your head?

Libby is hosting today's Poetry Friday buffet over at A Year of Literacy Coaching.  May you find some new and old favorites on the menu.

Please click on POST A COMMENT below to share a thought.


Myra Garces-Bacsal from GatheringBooks said...

I enjoyed the poetry commentary along with your lovely poem about canoeing. Such precious moments - the time with family and communing with nature. Thank you for sharing this with us. Must. enjoy. last. few. days. of. summer. Have fun! Hope to read more poems from you.

Ruth said...

I love this!

Looking for the Write Words said...

Hi Amy,
Great writing advice. It sounds like you are having a memorable summer with your family. Cheers to sunshine, riding, and giggle-paddling children! ~Theresa

david elzey said...

i had a surprising bit of success with this earlier this year (a poem called "song of the knife"). it caught me totally off guard but was incredibly effective at bringing the poem back to the beginning and giving it some grounding.

dipping words one at a time, i can alomst hear the rhythm of lazy paddling on still water...

Amy LV said...

Thank you for visiting, friends. May your days of August include some restful fun with water...

Elaine Magliaro said...


Love the word list poem. Sounds like you're enjoying your summer. Can't wait to head for Maine soon with my husband, daughter, son-in-law...and brand new granddaughter.