This month I’ve been thinking quite a lot about list poems. I’ve been running more workshops than usual in primary schools, and list poems are always a good tool for getting to know a class of children, how well they work, and their writing ability. They also provide a useful structure onto which the children can graft their own ideas and imagination.
They can also be a pretty good writing tool for adults, too.
I’ve also been teaching in a couple of Catholic primary schools, which has had me thinking about biblical language. As a child, I went to Sunday School most weekends, and I’ve spent a lot of years singing in church and chapel choirs. I’ve always loved the language of church services, particularly Catholic and high Church of England. It’s a heightened language, and there’s a kind of poetry to it. It’s full of repetition, for one thing.
Take the Apostle’s Creed:
I BELIEVE in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
There’s the repetition of ‘I believe’, the repetition of ‘He…’ (He was conceived / He descended to the dead / He ascended into heave), and then the repeated structure of the final section.
Part of the purpose of this repetition is surely to make the creed more memorable, but it also provides emphasis.
So that’s my task for you. This month, I’d like to you write your own creed.
It doesn’t need to be religious. You might believe that little green aliens landed in 19th century Paris and were responsible for building the Eiffel Tower. Or you might believe in love at first sight. Or that the cup of coffee you’re drinking right at this moment is the best cup of coffee in the entire world – or the worst.
Whatever you believe, I’d like you to write about it. Set it down. Speak it out. Proclaim it to the hills.