Monday, January 11, 2016

Poetry Prompt - January 11, 2016 - Walking Into the Senses & Memory

“If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write.”

Anais Nin

One morning, like most mornings, I took my dogs Hank and Buttercup for a morning walk. It was a chilly Bakersfield grey winter morning with a light mist falling from the sky.
Water was lightly falling on the skin of my face and hands that felt not unlike the ubiquitous sprinkler misters used by outdoor restaurants in the middle of summer to keep their patrons comfortable.

The three of us walked companionably for about twenty minutes when the sky opened
up and it started to rain much harder.

I felt intoxicated by the water flow so I reached into it by tipping my head back and really feeling each droplet of water as it poured over my cheeks and chin and forehead.

They felt like miniature icy daggers yet they were relatively painless.

I breathed in deeply to see if I could tap into their fragrance.

I smelled cold interiors, tickling my nose with their lush frosty wetness. Snowball
fights and pre-snow afternoons when I would walk out the front door of Glen
Ridge Middle School and inhale deeply, knowing the snow was imminent.

I smelled the deep freeze "walk-in" refrigerator from my days doing restaurant work – when it
felt like only a couple moments inside were a couple too many.

I smelled deep caverns of Sequoia National Forest and Central Pennsylvania, where cold water dripped off stalagtites which had never seen the light of day and were coated in frozen
water – who knows how long they had been covered?

I smelled the kitchen of my childhood when my mother would defrost our refrigerator, an
electric device of some sort stashed inside for its defrosting.  The ice from inside had such a distinctive smell.  

None of these memories had been with me until I chose to rejoice in the rain in the same way I usually rejoice in staying warm and dry.

What a difference this choice made AND what a treasure chest of poetry writing possibilities I unearthed in simply choosing differently!

Here’s where you enter into this creative equation:

Review your past week and note any times you consciously chose a different than your norm choice.
Does anything come to mind?

If it doesn’t, you have a couple options to inspire your poetry writing.


Create a fictional “new choice” and write from that imagined experience OR go out into the world and consciously make a choice that is different from your norm. 

If you have a recent experience to write from, enter into that recent memory with all your senses. Tease out details of what happened, how it was different, and what you saw, heard, smelled, tasted, physically felt or touched and any emotional connections as well.

In whatever case works for you, use your senses to purposefully evoke memory. The sense of smell is especially good practice for poets as it ties in with the most primitive parts of our mind. What you write will be evocative and interesting and perhaps take you down a path you hadn’t thought of until you do this exercise.

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  1. Lovely piece of writing and a great prompt.

  2. A lovely prompt that seems to take us all outside! Thank you for a thoughtful post.