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Penning Perfumes, Birmingham

I wrote previously about the Penning Perfumes project but now the moment of revelation is fast approaching!

The fragrance I created in response to a poem will be officially released for the first time at the Penning Perfumes event on the evening of Wednesday 6th February 2013 at Le Truc in Birmingham’s Ladywell Walk.

I will be there, so will the poet Claire Trévien and we’ll be talking about the experience – Claire will be experiencing the fragrance designed from her poem for the first time and giving her reactions live (gulp!) and I’ll be talking about how I got from one to the other.  Everyone will get to smell the new creation and if it turns out you love it I’ll even have a few bottles for sale.  If you don’t already have one you can buy tickets now for this and future events.  Speaking of future events I see that my friend and mentor John Stephen will be creating a perfume live on stage on 21st Feb in Oxford – brave man!

I’m looking forward to a fascinating evening in Birmingham.  Ahead of the event I was asked some questions about the experience – these appear on the Penning Perfumes tumblr page, but I’m also repeating them below.

It looks as if I’m working on something in this picture – but what?

1. As a perfumer, is poetry something you’ve used to stimulate new fragrance ideas before?
There have been a lot of different sources of inspiration and different kinds of brief, but this is the first time I’ve had a poem to work from. More usual for me would be a cocktail, plant or individual scent note, sometimes just a name. Or there could be a more prosaic, conventional kind of perfume brief. This has been a great experience and has made me look back at the poetry I wrote in my youth (I don’t write much any more) to see if there might be a fragrance hiding in there somewhere …
2. What has been your experience of turning a poem into a scent for Penning Perfumes – anything you weren’t expecting, or that was easier/more difficult than you expected?
I suppose the thing that was most unexpected was how easy it was – I don’t mean to say that the perfume came together first go – no such luck! But I expected to struggle to find a match between poetic phrases and imagery and scent notes, but in fact I found they came together very quickly and within an hour or so of first reading the poem I knew roughly the direction I wanted to take the fragrance. I did cheat a bit by exchanging emails with the poet though and that caused a couple of course corrections and added dimensions to the work that I’d not seen before. One of the things that fascinated me was that the poem was itself inspired by a performance of music – so three forms of artistic expression are layered in my perfume only one of which is mine.
3. Which is the one commercially available perfume that you’d love to see turned into a poem and why?
I’d love to see Terre d’Hermes turned into a poem partly because it’s one of my favourite scents and designed by a perfumer I admire very much but also because it’s such an abstract, minimalist creation I’d love to see how it might manifest in verse.

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