Invention : Sensational Poetry

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 Place.

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.

For further information on this sort of game click on games listed under INVENTION in the INDEX side bar.

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Windows Workshops Dave Calder, The Windows Project ,1997,1998,1999,2009