Senses In Poetry

  • Post author:
  • Post category:Poetry

The first poem I wrote was when I was in kindergarten and my class wrote a “Senses Poem”.  Basically we wrote something that we could see, smell, hear, taste, and feel on the indicated lines of the worksheet. It was incredibly simple, and mine was incredibly horrible, but I believe it says something deeper about the importance of sensory in poetry that this was the first thing I was taught about poetry.

I’m not saying that every good poem incorporates all of the five senses, there are far too many excellent poems that disprove that, but I believe it’s important to consider what senses you can incorporate into your poem. Poetry is an interesting art form because it can ultimately become whatever the writer wants it to, but the most powerful poetry I’ve read have used some element of sensory description to engage and emotionally effect the reader.

Sensory details enable the writer create a world that both the writer and the reader are able to live in which can be particularly important to science fiction and fantasy. It can be difficult to imagine what a writer may mean when they’ve created a world that you don’t physically live in. Sensory details can bridge the gap between writer and reader by creating something that is mentally as real to the reader as a memory of something they have physically experienced.

Create a memory with your poem. Try using as many different senses as you can in your poem and find out what is going to work for you. However, don’t try to shove as many senses into your poem simply for the sake of doing so. Too much description all at once can be overpowering and difficult to read and comprehend. Explore your poem using your own senses and see what happens. You may just find something really powerful.

If you’re interested in entering the Odyssey Poetry Contest submissions are due by November 14th so get writing! You can find more information about the rules and entering the contest here.