Greetings, my poet friends. This is Victoria, joining you from Reno, Nevada, for a little trip into a sensory experience. No, not the LSD kind of trip, but a poetic one in which we will use our senses to mix things up a bit.
There is a neurological condition called synesthesia in which the patient confuses sensation. For example, he may taste a fragrance, or hear a flower. Have you ever touched a rainbow or seen a toccata?
I Let You In
My palm is open.
lifts my nose
the outer rose petal
whispers my name.
I listen for notes
to hang it on.
a limp bracelet
onto shore. Faceless,
listen from the same,
and I wonder when
I first heard your lips
define my skin.
As soon as I read it, I knew where I wanted to go with this week’s Meeting the Bar. Now let’s go back, read it again, and pay attention to what Jane so skillfully does with the senses. Can you hear the rose and hear the lover’s lips define the skin of the poet?
The Poetry Foundation defines synesthesia as “a blending or intermingling of different senses in description.”
In the world of art, painters make a conscious choice of color to represent feeling or sensation. One might choose red to express rage or a loud noise. Or gray to depict depression. Practitioners of Therapeutic Touch instruct their clients to choose a color that represents the outcome they hope to achieve such as healing or calm.
How about words? Do you associate colors or, perhaps, sound with certain words? What color is birth? Growth? Dying? What chord or key would you chose to depict joy? Grief?
As poets, we can choose to use synesthesia to create a world of fantasy. I recently came across the phrase “tasting a rainbow”—I don’t remember where—and somehow it conjured up a garden of faeries and dreams of Ireland.
Here’s another example of synesthesia in a classic poem, found in the opening stanza of Keat’s famous poem, Ode to a Nightingale:
Ode to a Nightingale
BY JOHN KEATS
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,—
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
Public Domain–Find the complete poem here.
For today’s prompt, I invite you to play around with mixing up those senses. It’s not necessary to write a complete poem in synesthesia, just include an incident in which you invite your readers to taste, or see, or hear, or touch, or smell something that defies the sense you are using.
If you are able to participate, here’s the drill:
• Write your poem and post it on your blog or website.
• Copy the direct URL to your poem and access Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post.
• Paste the URL and your name in those spaces Mr. Linky offers you.
• Come on over to the Pub and visit with your fellow poets. Sip, taste their poetry and comment on your impressions.
• Especially try to visit those who have taken the time to read and comment upon your work.
• Enjoy your journey through the senses—that marvelous gift through which we are able to enjoy this world of ours.
If I may, on a personal note, I’d like to ask your help in promoting my novel, “Winter is Past,” which was published last year by Lucky Bat Books. If you would be willing to write a review, please e-mail me a note and I will send you a coupon for access on Kindle, Smashwords or Nook. The only thing I ask for in return is that you take a few moments to write that review—an honest one—on Amazon.com or Goodreads.com. This effort is in preparation for the publication of my next novel, “The Sin of His Father.” Both novels are contemporary fiction. Check out my website for more information, including an e-mail address. Thank you so much.
One more note–I will be away all of Thursday, but I’ll be back in to comment Friday morning, perhaps Thursday late, but it’s Pacific time here. But I look forward to read each one of your poems. Thank you.