Exploring Texture

Our sense of touch is the first of our senses to develop as humans, and it is crucial in the promotion of our physical and psychological well-being. Our skin is the largest of our sensory organs, and is one of our key means of connecting with the world around us. Textures that are warm, comforting and soft can be calming, while exploring different textures can enable us to feel more present and centred, and engaging with other kinds of texture can evoke memories and stir emotions. 

 

Exploring the sensation of touch within your writing can also add texture and richness to your descriptions. They can make your writing more vivid and immersive. 

Let's look at some examples. 

H.D.'s poem, 'Wash of Cold River,' explores natural textures of water, leaves, and the wind to create a vivid image; a 'clear and vivid statue,' in which these transient qualities might be apprehended. We get a clear sense of temperature, fragility as well as solidity, and dynamic movement, from a few carefully presented images. 

Kay Ryan's poem, 'Surfaces,' explores the 'private life,' of various textural exteriors: peach skin, ocean foam, glass, reefs, enamel and a pearl, in order to explore and trouble ideas about what is exterior and what is interior. 

 

Gwyneth Lewis's 'An Explanation of Doily' uses an ordinary, day-to-day textural object (a doily) and uses it as a extended metaphor for the transience and fragility of things around us: clouds, the sea, the stars, her shoes.

 

Valerie Martinez's 'Granite Weaving,' is an ekphrastic poem (a poem inspired by art), which takes as its point of inspiration a sculpture by Jesús Moroles of the same name. Her poem explores the textural qualities of the artwork in short, sharp sentences and phrases. 

Why not undertake your own tactile adventure in your own surroundings? You could, for instance: 

--Explore the textures within your own home and/or garden: smooth tiles, frayed carpets, polished wood, cracked paint, the chipped veneer of an old teapot, the velvet softness of a favourite blanket. 

--Consider not only its texture, but its thermal properties (warmth, coldness), its solidity or fragility, its scars and marks, and the stories they tell. 

--Write a poem or prose piece exploring these textures and the memories and feelings they provoke.

--Compose a poem or prose piece imagining the 'private life' of some of the surfaces you encounter. 

--Draft a poem or prose piece that engages with the texture of an ordinary, day-to-day object, thinking about how its textures are reflected more broadly in the world around you. 

--Or, you could write something entirely different inspired by your own textural exploration. 

If you would like to share the results of your textural adventure, or even just share your thoughts about what you did and how you got on, feel free to email work to e.j.perry@kent.ac.uk