Thursday, November 20, 2014

Winter List - List Poems Can Tell Stories

Dining Room Window
Photo by Amy LV

Students - Greetings from the land of snow!  Our family lives south of Buffalo, NY, and as you may have read in the news, snow has been falling like crazy in the towns nearby.  We only have about a foot here (two more expected over the next day) but some towns have five feet of snow!  This is a lot of snow.  Even the bit we have at the end of our driveway was so heavy that it broke this (lifetime guarantee - the new one is in the mail) shovel right in half.

Photo by Henry LV

As the roads are impassable, we have all been home playing games, shoveling, making cookies, and thinking snowy thoughts.  We've even sung a few bars of "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" and perhaps this is why I wrote about a snowman today.

This poem is a list, and it tells a story too.  On my early drafts, I wrote out the numbers as words, but when I moved to typing the poem, I decided to try numbers. I think that the numbers have a more list-y look, and that this makes the warm story part of the poem more surprising.  I have loved every snowman I've ever made...and tomorrow, if it warms up, we just might need to make a new snowman here.

I like the idea of a list poem turning into a story, and I will definitely try it again.

Teachers - right now I am reading Thomas Newkirk's wonderful new MINDS MADE FOR STORIES, a book which proposes, "That narrative is the deep structure of all good sustained writing.  All good writing." I highly recommend this book along with anything else that Thomas Newkirk has ever written.

Greetings to my teacher friends already at #NCTE2014!  I hope to arrive on Friday as today's flight has been cancelled.  If you are a teacher attending NCTE, Janet Wong has put together a list of some of the poetry sessions you might wish to attend.

Over at Sharing Our Notebooks, I am so happy to host teacher, literacy coach, author, and founder of Book Love...Penny Kittle!  Please check out her notebooks, the great exercise she offers us, and leave a comment by Monday, November 24 to be entered into a book giveaway.

Please share a comment below if you wish.


  1. I was sure poetry would be happening during the snow. Do tell what kind of paper you used for your lovely stars. I have been trying to figure it out. Not waxed unless there is a colored version I don't know about. Can you share? Good luck with your travels. HUGE crossed fingers for your safe flight and arrival at NCTE!

    Janet F.

  2. Crossing fingers that you can get out of the snow tomorrow! This is my first NCTE. When I read the poem, I immediately looked for a picture of your snowman in the post. Thanks for sharing poetry love every single day of the year!

  3. Janet - This is kite paper! You can find it on Amazon in a pad of 100 sheets. There is a great out-of-print book titled WINDOW STARS by Thomas Berger that has lots of patterns, but you can find many for free online too. Just type in "window stars." They are such fun to make! You will want one of those small paper cutters too - it really helps for measuring the squares. xo, a.

  4. I am so sad that you will not be at the awards ceremony today. Hope over to my blog to read my acceptance speech dedicated to you.
    Keeping my fingers crossed that you will be here tomorrow.

  5. Amy,
    Hope you make it to the conference! Loved the list poem and how it ended. Sweet!

  6. What a fun poem. I love the numbers - much like a recipe/list.