Scents and Sensibility

orange lily sWhen I lost my sense of smell for a while last year (thank you, Covid!)I realised this is one of the hardest of the five senses to describe in words.

So, here is a challenge for you!  ‘Smell’ is your prompt today – try producing a new piece of creative writing using smell as a key element.

Think of how important it is to be aware of your toast burning, or your hummus gone rancid, a gas leak, your unwashed roommate’s BO, your partner uncharacteristically drenched in the fake pheromones of perfume or aftershave.

You might find it a good subject for a 40-line poem – we’ll stick with free verse for today, although if you want to tackle a pantoum, villanelle or sonnet, go for it!

If you are writing for someone who has absolutely no sense of smell, how will you describe strong aromas? Your morning coffee or steaming cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven need a point of reference for you to explain them. Similes aren’t much use here – or are they? The blackened bagel popping up from the faulty toaster is like what? How can you describe that awful stench wafting through the kitchen to someone deficient in olfactory prowess?

Farmyards, boiling cabbage, rotten potatoes – they all have a distinct, unpleasant pong. Try explaining it in words!

And there are, of course, lovely fragrances, too – flowers, baking, freshly mown grass, old books. I’m sure you can come up with your own list and work the sensation of sniffing them into your poem.

If you want some tips on getting your poetry published, there are three websites I recommend you investigate: Poetry Ireland, the Poetry Society  and The Poetry Foundation. These websites all have information about how and where to submit your poems for publication.

And since we’re talking poetry today, here’s some news: for the third year running I have had a poetry pamphlet commended in the Fool for Poetry Competition run by Munster Literature Centre. Three different poetry pamphlets, three different years. It’s an expensive way to get third party validation for my work, but I’ll take the hit!

Call back next week for another writing prompt/exercise. I post something new here every Wednesday at 5pm Dublin time.