12:09pm, Friday, 19 November, 2010 – Atlanta
Imagery is one of the most important aspects of poetry because that is one of the main links between the poem and the reader. Whether the poem focuses on story, theme, or description [or any combination of the three], imagery, sensory imagery, is the bridge to the reader. Something many writers forget is that imagery includes all the senses, not just the visual. And, while visual imagery is strong because people are image oriented, the sense of smell is powerful because it is the one sense routed through the memory area of the brain. Tactile imagery attracts all those people who have to keep their hands in their pockets in a museum [I’m one – I learn and make my bridges through touch]. And we are bombarded by sound everywhere. If you employ imagery your reader can step into the poem. Check Keats’ poem “The Eve of St. Agnes,” if you want to read a master of sensory imagery.
We will try several exercises which may, or may not, result in poems. Don’t worry if all you end up with is a list of images. They become a resource pool for you.
“Smell is a potent wizard that transports us across thousands of miles and all the years we have lived.” Helen Keller
Smell is the most evocative of the senses. Of all our senses it is the one which will most immediately transport us to another place and time, because it routes through our memory. There are odours that spark passion and sensuousness and others that repel us physically. Our culture produces thousands of products to alter a person’s scent or that of her surroundings. We use scent to mask and manipulate. Animals use scent to mark their territories.
Smell, scent, odour, fragrance, bouquet …what other words do you associate with smell?
Describe smells. On the left side of the page, list significant smells; and on the right side, jot down what you associate with these smells. Pick two or three and expand into a vignette.
Describe two or three places using only your sense of smell. Don’t mention the places.
Describe a person using only your sense of smell. Don’t mention the person.
Describe your most vivid memory evoked by a smell.
Enjoy focusing on smelling things this weekend. Smell even things you know the scent of, but now focus on the smell. What does this thing smell like? How do you put the smell into words that another person can smell?