Yesterday, I went on a poets’ field trip to a perfumers in Marble Arch, London. I came home with a mystery scent sealed in a silvery capsule, and I have a month to write a poem from it.
The commission is part of a project called Penning Perfumes, the brainchild of Claire Trévien and Odette Toilette. The end result will be a pamphlet and a perfume & poetry evening in June. I’m a bit in awe of some of the other poets involved, and swooningly excited about the whole thing.
The project got off to an awesome start. Les Senteurs has some amazing perfumes, and we got to spend an hour playing with them all. I fell in love with a few: Lonestar Memories by Tauer, a cowboy perfume all whiskey and leather and oil; Cardinal by Healey, which smells like a Roman Catholic church; and Bois Naufragé by Pierre Guillaume – figs and shipwrecks. These perfumes are poems in themselves. If anyone ever wants to get me an expensive present… ;) There were other fun ones: chocolate scents, a rose scent that smelled like real living roses, jasmine and cigarettes, nutmeg and pepper (that one even *tasted* nice). I didn’t love them all, but tried most of them – except for one, the male ejaculate scent, because why would you. (Well, some of us did, and reported that it was… accurate.) Here's the shop, with us playing inside:
I went away with a blank brown envelope, containing my mystery sample and a letter with instructions. I love not knowing what my perfume is called, what it contains, what its story is. All I have is the scent. I have no idea what’ll come of this. Here’s to adventure!
Follow the project using the twitter hashtag #penningperfumes. There will also be a Penning Perfumes blog up soon - watch this space.