Sensational Poetry is another game of connections, evolving a description
of a place or event from five clues expanded by considering how they go
together. As in other games, the poem is the most important thing and
players should not be pushed to use words from the game that do not fit
their developing idea. The process of deciding what to write about allows
discussion which can help the poem in content, structure and voice.
In the full game a mysterious cabinet was used - on its shelves were brown
jars containing tastes, green bottles holding smells, a white box looked into
through a magnifying glass, a small cube which contained an earphone
linked to a tape-recorder and black fabric bags that held objects to touch.
Players rolled a dice to determine which of each they would assess. Then
they smelled, tasted, touched, looked and listened, recording what they
thought each sense had experienced. There were no correct answers, they
were not even told if they were right, since it was what their senses told
them that was important.
The game can be reduced to sample bottles or blown-up photos or sounds played
to a whole group. At its simplest it can be presented orally, players being
asked to write down a favourite, or most unpleasant, or first to mind, sight,
sound, smell, touch, taste; then to think about how they could be together at
the same place and time.
The five things the player senses then form the basis of a poem, but they
can be used in any way - combined into surreal incidents, included as
simile or metaphor, or blended into a simple description.
There is also a riddle version, as described on the worksheet A Sense of
When the poem was finished it was written out on a large coloured
cardboard shape, cut around a template of an eye, ear, nose, mouth or
hand, depending on which sense seemed most relevant to the poem. These
shapes were hung by thread and sticks to form a mobile.
When the workshops were held at the same site for a week during summer
playschemes `murals' were created on large boards. These were marked out
in the shape of a mouth, hand, eye etc., and divided into square units.
Players were invited to fill in a unit using paper, cloth and paint in any
combination, preferably with a picture related to their poem. The only rules
were that if a line of the basic shape crossed the unit chosen then the line
had to form part of the design and that on the outside of the line only black
and white could be used, in order to make the basic shape stand out clearly.
A later variation was to create collages from cut-up advertising posters on
the reverse of the cardboard shape that carried the poem.