Writing a poem for the first time can be intimidating, but there are many possible ways to get started. In this post I’ll talk about just one of them, which is a list poem.
Defining a Poem
The first step when introducing poetry to clients is to define poetry. Show what a poem looks like on a page. Explain that a poem is usually short, and that each line has a fixed length. It uses carefully-chosen language to express a feeling, and sometimes uses rhythm, rhyme, or repetition.
Writing a List Poem
A list poem is a poem in which each line begins the same way. List poems are wonderful for beginning writers especially, because the start of each line is provided, creating a comfortable way in (at least I have this part that I can write, and know I’m spelling it correctly). A list poem can be simple and powerful. One client, who struggles with depression, wrote a poem in which each line begins, “I love” followed by one thing that makes her feel happy.
5 Tips for Writing a Successful List Poem:
Read poems together as a group, to get clients familiar with the sounds and rhythms of it. After reading a poem, ask if there is any line that clients like or find interesting. Ask why they like it, what makes it stand out. Keep your ear open for things clients say—does something sound like a list poem? “Every morning I…” “I want to read…” “If I had a million dollars I’d…” “I love the way…” The possibilities are endless.
When clients are ready to begin writing, here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Be specific
Help clients bring their poems to life by including specific details. In other words, show, don’t tell. “I wake up early,” becomes, “I wake up at 3:00 am every morning to go to work.” Instead of “I cook Chinese food” help the client write, “I cook catfish with spicy sauce.”
2. Five senses
Can you see this poem? Can you hear it? Smell it? Feel it? Taste it? Is this poem bringing a world to life? If not, think about describing with the five senses.
Pay attention to the order of the list. Does it have a beginning? A middle? An end? Does it need an additional line to bring it to a close?
4. Word Choice
Think about word choice. Could another word be more effective? Sometimes beginning writers want to use the word “beautiful,” but write “nice” instead because it is easier to spell. Help the writer actualize the poem in her mind.
Don’t be afraid to edit. ‘Make it Messy’ is a good mantra for first drafts. They should have crossed out parts and additions. Are any items in the list extraneous? Are there unnecessary repetitions? Help students build the confidence to edit themselves.
Mindfulness is a concentrated state of awareness that can help us see and respond to situations with clarity and without getting carried away by emotions or the constant chatter in our heads. Mindfulness enables us to:
· Better manage tension and stress
· Enhance objectivity, mental focus
· Communicate and make decisions more effectively
· Improve productivity
· Quiet’s noise in the mind
Meditation is the tool we use to cultivate mindfulness. With meditation, you intentionally pay attention to a particular object as a way to strengthen concentration. There are thousands of meditative techniques: Tai Chi, yoga, focusing on the breath and using a mantra are all examples. People often think that meditating “correctly” means clearing all thought from the mind. This is a myth. The mind never stops thinking – it’s when we get caught up in our thoughts that we lose mindfulness. By witnessing thoughts, allowing them to pass, and returning to your chosen object of focus, you can actually build the muscle of concentration. Think of meditation as a fitness routine for the mind.
Are there other benefits to mindfulness?
In addition to boosting brain power, numerous research studies have shown significant physical benefits including:
· Reduced blood pressure
· Lowered cholesterol levels
· Enhanced immune function
· Reduced headache, migraine, back pain
· Improved respiratory function
Mindfulness does not require a particular set of beliefs in order to learn and practice – it is a quality of mind, accessible and available to all.
Mindfulness allows us to live every moment fully without the filters of bias, judgment or emotional reaction.
Mindfulness helps the body cope with physical challenges such as headaches, back pain and even heart disease.
Mindfulness keeps us from reacting too quickly – it helps increase the gap between impulse and action.
Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing. Arundhati Roy
oh such liberating desire
release me from these bonds
which blind me from the sun
lifted from the stone
placed in a washing bowl
my fingers reach in – grasping
lifting dripping into my face
a brief respite from the dryness
the lonely sleep