The program for last Saturday’s Writers Forum meeting was how to Jump Start Your Writing With Poetry. WF member and published author Linda Boyden shared with the group some techniques she has learned for writing poetry that also give us great tools for other types of writing as well.
One of those techniques was called writing a Sensory Poem.
The first step in writing a sensory poem is to pick a topic. Then you brainstorm words and phrases for that topic from each of the five senses. For instance, suppose you pick the topic A Winter Day. You would brainstorm words and phrases that describe sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings that you would associate with a winter day. When you have collected a good number of words, grab a few from that list and shape them into a poem.
The beautiful thing about these techniques is that the rules are few. “How many words do you need to write write down from your brainstorm?” Enough to give yourself a good selection of words to choose for your poem. Some people might write ten words and then see a poem in them. Some people might write thirty or forty words and still have to play around with them like letter tiles on a Scrabble rack to find a poem. “Do you have to use all of the words that you brainstorm?” Only if you want to. That might be a fun challenge, but don’t feel like you have to. “Can I only use words from my list?” No, the words on the list are the bricks you will use to build your poem. You still need mortar to connect them and make them solid, right?
Don’t feel like you should be obligated to spending a lot of time on this, either. Think quickly and write, and then move on. This is, after all, intended to jump start your other writing projects. Once you have your creativity flowing with a poem, hopefully it will be easier for you to move onto your other writing projects with a fresh dose of creativity. It works for me!
Here is a poem that was written at the program by WF member Carolyn Faubel. Carolyn drew upon intense images from the devastating Carr Fire. Writing poetry about the disaster might be one way to help ourselves heal.
The Carr Fire
By Carolyn Faubel
Perfect black leaves are floating down into my back yard,
A strange snow of destruction.
Gentle and persistent, ashfall is silent,
Unless you count the dogs howling as fire trucks and police cars go screaming by.
Stinking yellow smoke moves from piney campfire to burning plastic,
And other smells that must not be named.
Everywhere, sharp unforgiving branches spray out, their protection
Blasted off by the monster’s breath.
From the dun dry fallen leaves, a soft
Sooty fragment of upholstery fabric
The size of a moth
When I pick it up, the light shows through the thin weave of
Carbonized black thread.
And when I stroke the tufts of
It crumbles and disappears in the breeze.
Was it your couch?
I am sorry.
If you attended the program and would like to share your poetry from the poetry program, or even if you would like to try the exercise now and write a new poem, please send them to Writers Forum at firstname.lastname@example.org for posting in the future.
Thank you, George, and wow to Carolyn Faubel for this gem of a poem.