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Literary House Press to Release New Poetry Anthology
Location: Rose O’Neill Literary House
Poets from across the country signed on to participate in this unusual writing experiment. Once each poet agreed, Jehanne, the resident perfumista, chose a specific scent from a designer perfume house, picking a fragrance which seemed compatible with what she knew of that particular writer: personality, writing style, recurring subjects, themes, or motifs. Each contributor was instructed to compose a poem in response to his/her individually selected vial of perfume: “The poem can be an interpretation of the scent, a memory, a series of associations, or some entirely different kind of interaction with the fragrance. You can wear the perfume or sprinkle it on your pillow or just sniff the scent in its glass vial—whatever works best for your process.”
In the coming months, the poems that Jehanne and Lindsay received explored the spectrum of human experience and poetic subject matter: ars poeticas, poems about place and childhood, poems about scent and philosophy, poems about love and longing and grief. Instead of collecting poems primarily about perfume, the editors found themselves gathering together a diverse assortment of pieces that used scent as a way into various subjects, narratives waiting to be written, waiting to be triggered by the memory-laden sense of smell.
During the winter and spring months of 2014, Literary House Press Intern Samantha Gross joined the team—working many hours with Jehanne and Lindsay in the designing, proofing, and finalizing of the completed book. This was a labor-intensive and extremely detail-oriented process that, after many drafts, ended with the lush printed book. No, it is not scratch and sniff. Sorry about that. But it has a strikingly stark and beautiful cover designed by Carla Echevarria, a preface essay by Coming to My Senses author Alyssa Harad in which she draws together the various inherent connections between perfume and poetry, and, of course, 100 brand-new poems from accomplished contemporary American poets. In the back of the book is a section of “Contributors’ & Matchmaking Notes” in which, following a brief biographical note, each poet’s perfume-pairing is listed.
The first critical review of The Book of Scented Things came from poet Claire Trévien at Sabotage Reviews, who herself headed a very similar pair of UK-based perfume-poetry micro-anthologies, Penning Perfumes. Trévien says, “[T]here is no need to convince me on the logic of pairing perfume and poetry, but for anyone in doubt, both the introduction by Dubrow, and the preface by Alyssa Harad tease out the benefits of pairing two art forms some might qualify as niche or irrelevant.” Reviews have also begun coming in from some popular perfume blogs, including Bois de Jasmin and independent perfumer Ayala Moriel’s Smelly Blog.
Finally, after months of intense anticipation and loving preparation, The Book of Scented Things will be presented to the reading and sniffing world at its home launch party. On October 7 at 4:30 p.m. at the Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College, the Press will release this new poetry anthology with a celebratory reading featuring five regional contributors—Sandra Beasley, Meredith Davies Hadaway, James Allen Hall, Leslie Harrison, and Shara Lessley—and both co-editors, the unveiling of a commemorative letterpress broadside, a raffle for a bottle of Chanel No. 5 Eau Première, and an assortment of black-and-white treats from JoJo’s Cupcakes and Cream and bubbly drinks. It should be a dazzling evening for all of your senses. The Press will follow up this special event with an encore presentation in Washington, DC—a second book launch event to be held at the Arts Club of Washington on October 29 at 7:00 p.m.