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Poetry in its purest forms inspires us to think in new ways and feel with emotions we haven’t experienced or have long forgotten. In some cases, poetry can even call us to action. “Sensory” poetry uses the senses to convey the meaning behind the poems; pulling the reader into a world of smells, touches, feelings, tastes, sounds and sights. Sensory poems take us back to our most primal selves and it is here we can regain our center, our nature connection and our true calling.

So how do you write sensory poems? Practice these six steps to help you tap into your senses and turn them into prose.

1. Next time you feel the urge to write simply go out to a serene spot in nature. Close your eyes and just listen. Listen for the presence or lack of animals, listen for bird song, the rustling of the wind or the sound of the ground expanding or contracting.

2. Use your sense of smell to notice any fragrances, smell of animals or rain in the sky.

3. Touch the ground, bush or trees with your hands. With your eyes still closed, notice the texture of the object you are feeling, the temperature and how it feels on your hands.

4. Taste the air with your tongue. See if you can differentiate any tastes in the air.

5. Open your eyes and observe the world around you. Where were the animals you heard? Which tree produced the pine or lemon smell? What object made the “texture” you felt? What animal or tree made the “taste” you noticed?

6. Using your sensory experience as a guideline, start to write about the things you noticed and observed with eyes closed and after they were opened. Chances are you will create a sensory poem that will bring your experience to the world. And, right now, that is exactly what the world needs to see, feel, hear, touch, taste and smell.

What follows is one of my favorite results from a session of practicing “Senses” Poetry:


The White Lilac

Re-Wild Your Worlds: How to Sensorize Poetry | We Are Wildness

The rain on the grass was wet with life,
My bare feet connecting and tingling to a source unknown.
The bird song was quiet after dark,
And the fog, dew and light rain dimmed the few lights that dared.
The scents of life were everywhere,
Lilac white and purple, now in full bloom, slowly drifted under my nose.
Followed by the allure of Grass and Earth,
And, in the distance, the smell of my youth; honeysuckle.
Sweet, daring and dripping with hope it tempted and teased me,
Coming and going, drifting and staying.
Until I went to it,
Pulling and holding the bee’s treat on my hand.
Leaning in and absorbing the smell,
Holding it for eternity with cool grip until it was time.
Alive again, it was time to go with one final noticing,
The dandelions, heavy with nighttime condensation,
Had made a pattern.
Their home straight and wavy,
Like the string of a balloon,
Floating up to the sky in the summer breeze.
I imagined being there long ago when the seeds were blown,
By the mouth of Earth itself,
As I walked home, I could almost here her whisper….
Like a child blowing bubbles.

Chris Bickel

Chris Bickel

I'm a father, husband, brother, nature based coach in training, certified teacher and educational administrator, curriculum specialist, idea generator and a creator of writings and poems inspired by nature. I am a former Fellow with Earthwatch and author of The Nestseekers, a children's book about human and environmental interaction.