Patricia on perfume and poetry.
For me poetry first meant the limericks and nursery rhymes in The Golden Treasury of Poetry, edited by Louis Untermeyer and containing lovely illustrations by Joan Walsh Anglund. The pages of this book became dog-eared and torn over the years, and the cover finally fell off. Once I could read, I graduated to the longer poems within, such as “The Highwayman” and “Paul Revere’s Ride.” But it wasn’t until high school, when I was introduced to a wider range of poetry, especially modern verse, that I felt the power of poetry to take one on an incredible journey within the space of only a few verses. As a teenager, the poems of e e cummings were early favorites, and I still have a copy of Poems 1923-1954, my name written on the flyleaf in loopy handwriting I hardly recognize.
The Book of Scented Things: 100 Contemporary Poems About Perfume, edited by Jehanne Dubrow and Lindsay Lusby, is a collection of one hundred original poems about fragrance written by American poets. These poets were sent perfume vials, all different and carefully chosen by the editors, and asked to “…write a poem that engages with or responds to the fragrance that we have sent you.” The editors go into detailed explanation of the book’s inception in the Introduction, and Alyssa Harad, author of Coming to My Senses, provides her thoughts on scent and literature in a well-written Preface. A very useful Contributors’ and Matchmaking Notes section appears at the end of the book and gives biographical information on each poet as well as the name of the assigned perfume.