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What Does Poetry Smell Like?

What if every poem had its own fragrance, beyond the literal smell of the materiality of the page? What if one could smell a poet’s imaginative, conceptual, intellectual world, the text unfurling into an aroma?

poetry scentedPoetry subscribers can look forward to a fresh scent in their mailboxes this month as The Poetry Foundation has worked with Brooklyn-based perfumery D.S. & Durga to create a custom scent for Jeffrey Skinner’s poem “The Bookshelf of the God of Infinite Space.” Like old-school scratch and sniff, the scent has been added to an insert with the printed poem.

The insert celebrates the poetry and scent exhibition Volatile! hosted at The Poetry Foundation Gallery in Chicago through February 19, 2016. “In Volatile!,” the Foundation explains, “curator and design historian Debra Riley Parr presents a number of objects and experiences that invite speculative connections between poetry and scent. Scent artist David Moltz tells the story of a young boy who is transformed into a mythical beast through a series of 12 scents captured beneath 12 glass cloches. Works by artists Amy Radcliffe, Eduardo Kac, and Brian Goeltzenleuchter, poet Anna van Suchtelen, typography artist Ben Van Dyke and ceramicist Seth Bogart are also featured.”

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