How to Write a List Poem: A List with a Twist

A list poem is just that, a list of items, ideas, or people. The list is usually placed in the middle of the poem, and most end with a surprise, ” a list with a twist”.  But can a list be poetic? Of course!

Just follow these rules:

  1. Start with an idea and title, a family vacation, what you see at the park, things at a funeral, attributes of a friend, etc. Happy or sad, anything goes!
  2. Write an introductory line or stanza to set up what the list is all about. Then start your list.
  3. When making your list, think about how the items uniquely come together. What makes this list worth writing? Put a unique spin on it.
  4. Your poem can rhyme, but it doesn’t have to.
  5. End the poem with a line that surprises the reader…the “twist” to the list.
               beginning (introduction)                 
               list                  
               list                                 
               list                                  
               list                                 
              ending (twist or surprise)

Example: Below is a list poem I wrote for a children’s poetry book I’m working on. Notice how the beginning lines introduce the reader to the subject of the poem and gives a hint of what might happen. Where the boy keeps his treasures is the twist to the list.