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By Josie Whitehead

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So, you don't have a paintbrush or pencils with which to paint your picture, but something which is much, much more effective:  ie your five senses.  'Description' is so important in a poem, and you cannot get very far in your writing if you cannot describe something so accurately that the reader can see it in the mind, hear the sound it makes, perhaps smell it, recognize the description by 'smell' words, or feel something.  We know these words really well.  DON'T NEGLECT THEM in any of your writing.  You may not have all of them in whatever you write about, but if you don't have at least half of them, then you have missed out on something important.

If you go to my SENSES POEMS and read them, you'll see what I mean.

Let's examine the poem which I've just added today:  UP, UP AND AWAY

I've been lucky enough to live in the age of the aeroplane and I've been lucky enough to have travelled near and far by plane.  I'm quite familiar with all the things which I have seen, heard, felt, smelled and tasted whilst on a plane.  Have you?  I try to bring all of these and my feelings towards what's happening into this poem:

Fasten your seat-belts.  Can you feel the metal in your hands and slipping the one part of the seat belt into the other, with perhaps a click?  Then you FEEL the movement of the plane as the wheels beneath the plane move round the runway.

I'm usually a little bit nervous during take-off and landing and a sucky sweet helps, doesn't it?  So in my poem, taste does come into 'take-off'.

Then the next thing is sound.  You know there's no escape when you are on the runway and you hear the engine beginning to roar, and even then you are mentally prepared for the fast movement as the plane tears along the runway.  

I begin to see many things once the plane starts rising from the ground because the houses seem to get smaller and smaller and we soon look out and see we are in a mist (cloud).  If you can see any people, they are like ants on the ground, aren't they?  You wouldn't recognize one person from another.  I've told my readers that the houses I see are rather like small dolls' houses.  Then the fields below look like patchwork.  How else could I describe it?

Then you look out of the window and see nothing but mist, which means that we are going through cloud.  Your eyes see it and your mind takes this in.  How would you describe it?  I called it 'cloud-snowfield', as you will have seen.  No matter how cloudy it is from Earth, once you are on the other side of the cloud, you are in 'heavenly blue', as I say.  How would you describe it?  

Then without a car passing or even a bird passing, and without fields and houses etc etc, you feel as if you are so far away from everything earthly, and I hope you like the description which I give to this:

                'Our world and its problems take on a new face

                         And both seem diminished when pondered in space.'


Your sense of smell and taste come into the picture when the coffee and snacks come round, but also something which I personally hate, ie the loud advertising voice which you can't seem to block out.  What you also see, and which I haven't mentioned, are the queues for the toilet, but let's forget that.

So, read lots and lots of my poems, especially the senses poems, and see if you can also inject your five senses into your own writing.  Good luck.


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