The Smell of Springtime
For many years now, I’ve been a passionate lover of perfume, a perfume nerd I call myself. My obsession with perfume became such a large part of my reading and writing that, in 2014, in collaboration with my friend Lindsay Lusby, I co-edited The Book of Scented: 100 Contemporary Poems about Perfume. Here’s a description of the anthology:
What if 100 contemporary American poets were sent individually selected vials of perfume, fragrances chosen to reflect the authors’ voices, aesthetics, or writerly obsessions? What if each poet wrote something new in response? The Book of Scented Things collects the results of this strange, aromatic experiment: poems of longing and of childhood memory, poems of place and philosophy and politics, poems about the challenge of writing poems about perfume. This is an anthology whose words will linger on your pulse points long after even the base notes have faded.
I continue to write and think about perfume. One of the manuscripts I’m currently drafting is a book-length essay titled throughsmoke, which meditates on how I came to fall in love with fragrance in much the same way that I came to fall in love with poetry, how the two arts forms mirror one another, the ways in which both perfume and poetry are dismissed as frivolous, luxury goods, and why we need these kinds of beauty particularly at dark moments.
And, of course, I continue to wear perfume every day, changing my scent as the weather or my mood or the occasion demands. Today, on the final day of March, I’m wearing Misia by Chanel, which smells of violets and powder, rose and leather, evocative of old-fashioned lipsticks or the satin lining of a grandmother’s handbag. In other words, delicious.