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Do Poems Stink?

Volatile! A Poetry and Scent Exhibition opens on December 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Poetry Foundation Gallery with a panel featuring curator and design historian Debra Riley Parr, post-media artist Brian Goeltzenleuchter, and perfumer David Moltz discussing intersections of scent and poetry.

In Volatile!, Parr presents a number of objects and experiences that invite speculative connections between poetry and scent.

The exhibition features works by Moltz, Goeltzenleuchter with poet Anna van Suchtelen, typography artist Ben Van Dyke, ceramicist Seth Bogart, and artists Amy Radcliffe and Eduardo Kac.


"Great art is a keyhole that we peek through, opening onto larger, collective spaces," David Moltz writes. "Poetry and perfume both utilize the power of suggestion and are capable of creating entire worlds through subtle illusion."

As stated on the website of Moltz's D.S. & Durga, inspiration comes "from outdated herbal wisdom, native ritual medicine, lore and legends, historical movements and Americana. The scents are the stories of prospectors, gentry, trailblazers, frontier women, drawing rooms, workbenches, cowboys - fragments of half remembered legends, movements, events, and foreign lands."

"Poetry readers might find this project surprising, but poetry and perfume together have always evoked rich, powerful, and complex responses," said Don Share, editor of Poetry magazine. "In 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,' published one hundred years ago in our pages, Eliot famously mused: 'Is it perfume from a dress / That makes me so digress?'

"One thinks, too, of Baudelaire: 'Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir' ('Sounds and fragrances swirl through the evening air . . . '). This new conjoining of poet and perfumer has resulted in an elegant, engaging, and sensual experience that we're proud to present."


Anna van Suchtelen.


Seth Bogart.


Amy Radcliffe.


Eduardo Kac.


Comments welcome.


Posted on December 8, 2015

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