Poetry topic idea: scent

Today’s poetry topic idea is scent.  Scent makes a very good poetry topic idea because of the ways scents are described.

In some way, scents are described either by definition or indirectly.  What do pancakes smell like for example?  The “by definition” answer would be that pancakes smell like pancakes.  The thing itself defines its scent.  The “indirect” answer would be to say that pancakes smell warm, sweet, buttery, like breakfast, relaxing, and familiar.  They can be described by senses and other things.

These ways of describing something are very useful for poetry. 

A poet can describe something with itself (e.g. a lily has the scent of a lily).  This circular type of description can be poetic.

Alternatively, and even more useful, a poet can describe something indirectly.  A poet might write about fresh cut grass.  They could use many descriptive words such as fresh, green, spring, summer, earth, nature, dew, pollen, chlorophyll, light, and fields.  A poet could write about the scent, and get the idea across, without ever stating what the scent is.

Here are some scents you might try to use in poetry as ideas.  The scent of:

  • A person’s perfume or cologne. This scent can be familiar, heavy, light, good, bad, and many other things.  Depending on what a poet wants, many ideas could be explored.

  • Breakfast. A poet could write about familiarity, the different foods, and the mingling of scents.

  • A hospital. A poet could write about the scent of sterilization and disinfectant.  They could write about the scents associated with illness.

  • Dogs. Some ideas might be the scent of a puppy or the scent of a wet dog.  Another idea would be to focus on the sense of smell of a dog.

  • Cookies. Cookies can be a very familiar scent.  The scent of fresh baked cookies is even an idea in society.  Different types of cookies have different scents.  A poet could write about different types and use the scents to explore ideas.