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  • Writer's pictureKaecey McCormick

Poetry Workshop Wonders: List-Definition Poems

Today I had the privilege of spending time in one of my favorite places with my favorite people: a community creativity workshop.  This October and November, I'm leading my last Lunch Hour Language Artists Workshop Series as Cupertino Poet Laureate.

The theme for LHLA 3 is "Poetry of Place." In the first session, we wrote about our childhood homes. Today the focus was on finding and defining home, and I introduced the concept of List-Definition Poetry - a form totally made up by me that combines a list poem with a definition poem.

I structured the workshop so participants would consider the juxtaposition of "Home Then," and "Home Now." I like to join in during writing time whenever possible, and I was amazed by how my brainstorming around "Home Now" centered on the people I've met and worked with during my time as CPL and how much I'll miss hosting these community events.

I feel truly blessed to have had my life touched by so many amazing people and their poetry. I can't wait to see where the poem I started today leads as I continue to work on it.

At the start of our writing session, the group and I brainstormed words and phrases related to the concept of "Home, Then and Now" to generate ideas for our own List-Definition poems.

I thought it would be interesting to turn our brainstorming lists into a poem using every word and phrase generated.

Here's the result!

Then and Now

Then we were fearless running in clean air with the outside cats through mustard yellow fields playing with the neighbors on rope swings in fruit trees.

Then we were joyful and safe in our backyard adventures our trust in friends expansive jumping from diving boards into swimming pools.

Then we were playful trudging through white snow splashing into cedar hot tubs, seldom lonely and only sometimes confused.

Now we are isolated amidst the tall green spires in a sea of dusty earthquakes, suffocating in politics and exhausting chaos.

Now our expensive empty nests feel claustrophobic and tiny, leaving us alone but safe in our book-filled havens.

Now, as then, we find love and gratitude hidden in Sunday dinners and boba tea, waiting between cracks on the sidewalks and countless cars parked on freeways.

Then and now, we are Cupertino.                                                             © 2019 Kaecey McCormick

How to write a list-definition poem

If you weren't able to join us, you can use the same concept as a poetry prompt!

Choose one noun and two opposing adjectives, then brainstorm a list that defines what the noun means when modified by each adjective.

Use the lists to create a poem that describes both.

Good luck and happy writing!


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