Read Write Poem member Julie Jordan Scott launches her NaPoWriMo prompt with a quote from Diane Ackerman: “Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years.” Julie reports having discovered in her own notes 17 pages on the subject! Here’s the prompt she culled from material she’s collected:
Practicing the art of writing from the sense of smell will open language in a different way than writing from a more “language friendly” sense, like the sense of sight or sound. Because of this, writing that uses a scent prompt evokes visceral, richly experienced poetry.
Scientific fact: Salmon smell their stream of birth from hundreds of miles away. The scent of this particular stream weaves its way to the salmon like a love-call. It rises and falls with the water, its essence calling the ancient connection. The salmon respond to this invitation and make their way back to their spawning ground.
Humans have primitive connections to the sense of smell, as well. It is our most primal sense, especially since the connections between the language centers and smell sensory centers are so few. Our sense of smell is tied to our most ancient selves. Another intriguing fact? Smell is connected closely to our memory centers even though it is distant from our language centers.
Somewhere near where you are sitting is something with a specific smell that will conjure a memory rich with images. Take a moment to find any such object and breathe the scent of it, deeply. It may be as simple as a strand of your hair, a ketchup bottle from the refrigerator, a potholder or a bottle of lotion.
Add to your breath the simple phrase, “I remember” and breathe the scent in again. “I remember.” Free write from “I remember” for at least five minutes, repeating the prompt “I remember” if your writing slows.Use the seeds from your free writing to write today’s poem.
The air crisp and clean.
People scuttle and huddle,
while ice skaters glide.