Tag Archives: sensory details

Poem Tryouts: Sensory Words

6:50 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to the water running while Skip shaves

Hello all. We’re almost halfway through summer. Welcome to the new people whose names I have been seeing. Come the end of August, I’ll have a brief post with the hows and whys and wherefores of Wordgathering. Meanwhile, follow along; Join in even! Try a poem.

Before we get started, a note from Irene Toh of  Red Wolf Journal: Red Wolf has published two collections of poetry in a PDF format, Having Taken Vows, by Christopher Hileman, and Duet, by Christopher Hileman and Irene Toh. Head over for the links to download the collections.

Today’s prompt is short and sweet. Don’t look at the calendar. It will only confuse you. The topic has changed three times. The exercise is a pinch hitter, that came about at midnight, as I read a Nero Wolfe mystery, while trying to fall asleep.

You are looking for a word that affects your senses strongly, any time you read it, or hear it, so strongly that you feel it physically. My word is coffee. and it affects me more at night [when, of course, I don’t have a cup]. The feeling I get, on reading, or hearing [on television], the word is such that I have to restrain myself from getting up and making a cup. I can even smell it.

Once you have the word, you may write an ode to the topic; or, you can write about the whys of the feelings aroused on reading/hearing your word; or, you can play [I don’t know — that’s up to you]. Your objective is to have your readers feel some of what you feel. Use sensory details.

See you next Tuesday when we are back with the summer calendar and what I call ‘a day of rest’ [this does not mean nothing]. Check it out, as you might want to look around.

Happy writing, everyone.


Posted by on 08/07/2014 in exercises, poetry, Summer


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It’s the Truth: Tuesday Tryouts

8:13 a.m. — Atlanta

Hullo! I almost didn’t get here. Got distracted by Elizabeth’s song choices for this week’s Musical Notes challenge. She has ‘Fireflies’ by Owl City and ‘Under African Skies’ by Paul Simon. I love the pairing. I am now listening to ‘Johnny Cope’ by The Corries.

To communicate truths, which is what poetry does, we need to be able to tap into our memories. This seems a given, but what if you want to convey something where the speaker needs to feel an emotion foreign to you, say anger? As adults we learn to repress, or find outlets for, strong emotions. Children have no sort of clamp until their parents and societal expectations put paid to abandoned expression.

I want you to find those moments of abandoned expression, of feeling something to the core, whether it be an emotion, an image, an event, or a place. What is your most powerful memory in each of these four categories, a memory that will never abandon you? Write each memory down and jot as many sensory details as you can. If you need to, make them up [the details, not the memories]. I know, ironic, when we are talking truths.

Your options are several fold. You should have at least four memories, unless some of the categories dovetail. You may, if you are like me, have more than four, [I list while I think]. You can choose one and recreate the moment. If the moment itself conveys a truth, let’s see if you can show us through the retelling, even if you have to tweak the memory to make it work for the poem.

You can take one of the memories and use it to convey a truth about something today. Here, you won’t recount the memory, but will use elements of it to feed your poem. If you want, include process notes with this, letting us know how you took the elements of the memory and used them for something else.

You might notice a thread among the memories and decide to write something that links the four [or two, or three].

You may wish to write four short, separate poems [or two, or three].

Remember that this is about using the memories, not the memories themselves. Play, write, post. Don’t worry if it’s messy. That’s what this is for. I look forward to reading what comes in.

I shall see you Thursday for a couple of links and a discussion opener; Friday for this week’s roundup; and next Tuesday for a prompt on your inner child.

Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 18/09/2012 in exercises, poetry, writing


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The Things You Don’t Say: Tuesday Tryouts

:34 a.m. — Atlanta

Hello all. I hope everything goes well. Today, a short, and possibly simple, prompt. No, really. This time, it will be short.

What are the things you don’t say? Think over the past few days. Has there been a time[s] when you did not say something, when you could have? Past few weeks? Months? Years? Was your reason for not saying something to do with upbringing, tact, diplomacy, self-preservation…?

List as many as you can think of, jotting notes next to them as to context. Choose two or three and expand on your notes. The notes are for you to do actively, while the brain works on retrieving details. Jot place, time, situation, motivations, emotions, sensory details of what was happening around you.

Consider why you chose not to say something. Use this as your seed. Have you noticed a pattern in the things you don’t say and want to write about that? Go. Do you have a specific instance when you didn’t say something, but can now? How do you want to present that within the framework of a poem? If you wish to be more general, are there things you have noticed that people don’t say, that you want to write about?

If the things you don’t say does not strike a chord, how about the things you won’t say? You might enjoy writing a poetic commentary about what you will not say.

Remembering that the poet is never the speaker [even when it is about the poet], feel free to change details, to create a different setting, to do whatever is required by the poem to convey the truth [ironically, that often requires changing the reality].

Consider form versus free verse. Some topics lend themselves to specific forms and are enhanced by them. Consider a conversation poem for this topic.There is no wrong way, or wrong path. Write a poem and post.

I shall see you Thursday for a few announcements. If you have anything you would like me to post, send it along. Friday will be the usual roundup of prompts. Next Tuesday we will consider the opposite of idyll as a topic, rather than a form.

See: short.

Happy writing,all.



Posted by on 17/01/2012 in exercises, poetry, writing


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