A taste of things
The third week of our November reflections
Hello and welcome! This is the 79th issue of Place, and this month, we’re trying out something a bit different. Over the past year and a half of running this newsletter, we’ve noticed how strongly the concept of ‘place’ resonates with people – not just with our readers, but with our writers as well. Working with our contributors and editing their work with them has shown us that place also cuts deep. Talking, or rather writing, about a place, brings people into raw spaces, to parts of themselves they may not have visited before – at least from that angle. Place incites emotion, sensuality, memory, and identity. All of the intangibles that make us who we are.
This month we’re inviting you into the process that we take with our contributors in the form of a month-long reflection on place. Each week in November we’ll offer you writing tips as well as prompts to get you thinking about the spaces you inhabit in the world. Keep in touch with your progress — perhaps it will even turn into something you may want to write for us.
Have something you’d like to write about for Place? Or know someone who might? Check out our pitch guide. We really want to hear your stories, and the great news is, we can now pay our contributors thanks to our generous subscribers who have supported us through our membership program. Even if you’re unsure if your idea fully fits Place, please do drop us a line – we’d love to chat.
At Place, we believe that the experiences, sensations and conversations we have as we move about the world stay with us, stacking up as the years go by, forming who we are and the way we view the world. If you’re the social type, follow us on Twitter (@place_letter) where you can share your favourite pieces and Instagram (@placenewsletter) for a visual feast. Yours, The Place editorial team.
Our senses are the vessel through which the character of a place calls us, envelops us, and brings us into our own bodies. One of the simplest ways to be brought back somewhere is to close one's eyes and think of the tastes, smells, and sounds that bombarded us in a moment, piercing our experience like an invisible spear. This week, the third in our month of reflection, we’re asking you to write about the sensations that place brings.
Let your eyes, ears, mouth, and nose be your guide.
Sometimes - especially when you have been in one place for some time - it can be difficult to get your head out of routine and see the spaces around us with curiosity and openness. To get that inspiration back, consider picking up a travel book or watching a travel show, perhaps one by Anthony Bourdain or Louis Theroux. Pay close attention to the way they describe their surroundings and interact with the people they meet, and imagine what it would be like to bring that attitude to your own life.
In a similar vein - treat everything around you with newness. You may think that you know a place, an object, or a flavour - but there is always room for reinvention. When writing, describe the attributes of things that you think are obvious. What might seem familiar to you, could, in the mind of another, be completely novel.
-Take a second to sense the space around you. What are you feeling, smelling, tasting, hearing? How do you feel in the space where you are now and why does it make you feel that way? Is there something you want to change? Is there an object that inherently brings you comfort?
-What is a place that has felt inherently sensual to you, and why? What was it about the environment or the taste that aroused a deeper reaction, and what did that connection inspire in the way you felt and acted in that place?
-What is a flavour or smell that can immediately transport you somewhere else? What happens when you catch a whiff or a taste? Where does it bring you? Is there a specific memory that you return to? Describe where that sense takes you and how it makes you feel when you experience it.
The British obsession with marmalade,
Join us next week for another reflection.