Finding everyday poetry in a collection of 700 discarded grocery lists

Photo: LightFieldStudios (iStock)
Hot LinksHot LinksWe spend way too much time on the internet

Milk. Eggs. Bread. Where’s the art in that? For Madison Gateman, the list is pure poetry. She’s a former grocery store employee living in Vashon, Washington, who began gathering discarded grocery lists left behind at the store. As this segment from Seattle station King 5 Evening illustrates, her collection has grown to roughly 700 lists, which she displays in public places, like coffeeshops, around town.

“They need to be touched,” Gateman told the station. “They need to be held and witnessed. They’re important.”

Advertisement

One of her favorite lists is short: just bananas and mousetraps.

Watch the entire segment, as it will truly make you think differently about not just grocery lists, but the flotsam, jetsam, and ephemera of every day life—and what might happen to those as we move toward app-based lists. (Gateman has also been profiled by The Seattle Times.) Those fascinated by Gateman’s collection may also be interested in the Treasures In The Trash Collection in New York City, curated by a former NYC Sanitation employee, or by the Recycled Materials Museum—also called the Museum of Unnecessary Things—in Kiev, Ukraine.

In honor of Gateman, The Takeout staff has contributed its own grocery list poem, which we think is best appreciated when accompanied by a bongo and quiet snapping:

Chicken thighs and ketchup
Cashews
Butternut squash
Coffee filters—#4
Whole milk
Farro
Beer
String cheese

Advertisement

Share This Story

About the author

Kate Bernot

Kate Bernot is managing editor at The Takeout and a certified beer judge.