Poetry and perfume at the Milk Thistle

28 02 2013

Poets were given a perfume as inspiration for a poem. A perfumier was given a poem as inspiration for a perfume. Then a perfume created from a poem was given to the audience from which to make a haiku.

Neither as pretentious nor as confusing as it sounds; this was Penning Perfumes, an event which in Bristol reached the finale of a short tour funded by Arts Council England.

Taking place on the first floor of The Milk Thistle even meant a few specially created cocktails which themselves had drawn inspiration from the scents we were sniffing, which included one called Black Narcissus, invented in 1911.

It was intriguing to see what directions the poets had gone down after being sent their perfume. While they read their poems, we in the audience sat smelling the perfumes on tester sticks.

The best poem of the evening was by Anna Freeman, who had imagined a couple called Frank and Franny driving together down an American highway.

Then  there was the moment when poet David Briggs first smelled the perfume that had been created specifically for a poem he had written about two lovers on a year of cultural activities, made by perfumier Elizabeth Moores, whose aim was to create raunch: “I wanted it to smell like bed sheets after sex.”

Briggs seemed flabbergasted. “It’s rare enough to get a response to a poem; let alone a response like this,” he said. “It’s incredible.”

Penning PerfumesPhoto by Ruby Walker

A perfume-inspired haiku, by Martin Booth:

Paper with top notes
Of cardboard and musky dew.
My nose does not work.


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