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The Language of Smell: A Generative Writing Workshop
The Language of Smell: A Generative Writing Workshop

Instructor:  Jessica Poli
Date: Saturday, August 10, 2024
Time: 1 – 3:30 pm
Location: Larksong Writers Place
1600 N. Cotner Blvd
Lincoln NE
Genre: All
Level: Beginning to Advance

Cost: $60
Member Discounts (Log into your account to receive discount)
Scholarships available


The Language of Smell

A Generative Writing Workshop

Smell is one of the most evocative senses when it comes to memory, with scent memories being able to conjure strong emotional reactions decades after a scent was last experienced. But how does one describe a particular smell? In A Natural History of the Senses, Diane Ackerman writes that “smells are often right on the tip of our tongues but no closer—and it gives them a kind of magical distance, a mystery, a power without a name, a sacredness.” Descriptions of smell can be elusive, but attempts to describe scents also serve as an opportunity to test our creativity while writing with the body—an experience which can ultimately bring us closer to our subjects.

This generative workshop will focus on the power of smell and sense memory in writing practice. Participants will have a chance to produce their own writing using guided prompts, as well as learn and discuss what makes smell such a sharply evocative and emotional sense memory. We will also briefly explore the world of niche perfumery in order to practice our skills of descriptive scent-based writing using provided fragrance samples. 

This workshop is suitable for all writers of all skill levels, and there will be opportunity to write in multiple genres.

Jessica Poli is the author of Red Ocher (University of Arkansas Press), which was a finalist for the 2023 Miller Williams Prize. Her work has appeared in Best New PoetsNorth American Review, and Poet Lore, among other places. She is currently a PhD student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she teaches creative writing and works as an editor for Prairie Schooner.


Larksong is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We are committed to supporting both the writers who come to us for instruction and the writers who come to us to teach. We keep our class fees low, offer free programming, and pay our instructors. Please consider supporting our mission by making a tax-deductible donation.