Imagery and the Five Senses
In this exercise, you will write a poem which includes images of all the five senses: Sigh, Sound, Touch, Taste and Smell.
First, find a painting that evokes a response within you. This can be a painting that you've loved for years, or something you come across in a Google Image Search. Here are some galleries if you need ideas:
Look carefully at your painting now, its textures, shapes, tones and emotions; observe the various objects in its composition. In this exercise, you will learn how a poem can be saturated with images.
Please imagine that you are some thing in the painting. When you begin to write, speak in your poem as though you have become that thing in the painting. Step inside the painting and imagine that you are actually there, standing, observing, smelling, and tasting the things around you in the painting.
TO GET YOU STARTED
Let's start by making a list of images -- your image bank. Look at your painting, and then write a two- or three-word phrase that describes something you see in the painting. When you step inside the painting, what do you see? Now write a second phrase describing what you see in the painting before you move on to the next sense -- the sense of sound.
An image is a phrase of two or three words that shows what you see, smell, hear, touch, and taste. When you have written two phrases for the sense of sight, skip down a few lines and write two phrases for the sense of sound. Avoid using single words.
To make this part easy, you may write "I see ...", "I smell..." etc., but in the final draft, try to remove those phrases.
The sense of taste sometimes causes people to ask, How can I taste something in a painting? For the sense of taste, think of how your own sense of taste works. You touch an ice cream cone to your tongue; the sense of cold and sweet registers in your brain.
To apply this to the writing of a poem, consider that the sense of taste can be transmitted from one object to an object that it touches in the painting. Look at your painting. Look for objects that touch one another. These objects may be said to "taste" one another.
The upturned glass touches the tablecloth: the glass tastes the linen. Or, the ladder touches the haystack: the ladder tastes the musky hay. Or, the sail of the boat touches the wind: the sail tastes the salty wind. And so on.
ADDING WORDS FOR EMOTIONS
To bring the sense of taste to an even more exciting level, consider the emotions: love, joy, anger, sadness, jealousy, etc. Now look again at the painting for two objects that touch one another. When you find them, you may insert one of the words of emotion next to the verb: the glass tastes the joy of the linen. Or, the ladder tastes the anger of the haystack. Or, the sail tastes the jealousy of the boat.
When you have made a list of two phrases for each of the five senses, begin to write your poem.
COMBINING THE PHRASES
Now your task is to pull all the phrases together. Which image do you like best? The phrase for the sense of smell? Of touch? Pick one, and use it in your poem. Which image catches your eye next? Use that image now, and write it in below your first line, and so on.
Add or delete phrases as you like. Fill in some of the "story" to connect the images of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell.
Be sure to tell us which painting you chose, or upload an image for reference!