Friday, January 10, 2014



RK: You have written a number of long poems that seem to have grown from a profound engagement with scents, perfumes, the chemistry of attraction and repulsion.  I've read two of the pieces so far, and found them exciting, tempestuous, verbally exalted. 

How did they come to be?  How did that all start?

AG: When I think about it now, a lot of things perfectly aligned for me to make these poems.  I’ll begin by answering concretely…

I run a reading series called “Cadmium Text,” and we had a reading with Louis Asekoff and Caroline Crumpacker in February 2012.  I remember talking to Charlotte Mandell in the hallway of the art gallery at R&F Paints.  I think I was wearing one of the last precious drops I have of an ambergris oil that’s about 25 years old.  Charlotte was wearing Saffron, Cardamom, Agarwood by Korres.  Perfume has always been a completely private and solitary interest for me.  But we met in that hallway and exchanged words like secret agents (she said, “ambergris,” then “agarwood”), and suddenly scent catapulted to my foremind.   I never heard of agarwood, the most rare and revered olfactive substance in the world.  So I began to research everything I could find about it.  The weirdness, the isolation of this common interest propelled Charlotte and I to meet up every few months and compare the scents we were sampling.  She takes this stuff very, very seriously.  The first time we met to compare notes, I showed her an unusual oil.  I have no idea where I got it, where it came from.  She whipped up a related potion based on what she could smell (rose, patchouli, sandalwood in perfumer’s alcohol), and those three things transformed into something new. 

Around the same time that Charlotte and I started “talking perfume” like it was a dead language with few speakers left, I began a collaboration with the poet John Bloomberg-Rissman, the king of “putting in.”  This collaboration has been very important to me.  Subtraction holds little interest for him in his project “Zeitgeist Spam,” a vast sculpted aggregation of all the things that dissolve in his consciousness.  ZS is like an act of witnessing that is painted painstakingly and broad like the Sistine Chapel.  The processual underpinnings of our first colab showed me (glaringly) how compartmentalized my own processes are, and I began to knock down the walls between the different types of work that I do.  At his suggestion, our first colab took a poem written by my friend Lynn Behrendt;  JBR and I decided on a repetitive phrase that would ring through the piece; and the only part of Lynn’s poem that would stay in would be the nouns. 

Before this colab with JBR, I would keep various processual work together – like only with like – never mixing the processes into a single piece. 

For example, in my book I-Formation (Book 2), I kept all the anagram poems in the first section together, instead of treating the anagram process as something I could inject into other work.  In many of the poems in my first three books, I used Babelfish (a notoriously poor translation device that has now been discontinued) as a primary disordering mechanism, and I kept that work together.

For these new perfume poems, I decided to go at some exterior descriptive text in two ways, using Babelfish and another technique I use where I slowly type text into a Google or Bing searchbox, and make poetry out of the disparate suggestions.  The latter started as an investigation into Cage-ian, aleatory possibilities, but I also realized that there is a strong opposite here too, meaning that every time I was using the searchbox technique, I was hooking into a current zeitgeist, the algorithms of popular desire.  It wasn’t chance exactly.  Or a slanted chance.  I used straightforward Google methods as well to develop sections of these poems.

So the mixing, watching Charlotte combine ingredients, watching JBR grab the disparate and blend seemed very important.

In March I wrote these notes to myself in a notebook where I keep track of possibly interesting things to Google :

Poem idea –

Babelfish Lucky Scent
description – Le Labo Patchouli 24

Make poem out of fragrance
reviews @

Possible Google treatment

What followed comprises (so far) almost 100 pages based on six different perfumes, not always ones I necessarily personally “like,” but ones with hypnotic conceptual underpinnings to them.  To me anyway.

RK: Blake clamored for us to enjoy "enlarg'd and numerous senses."  Curious that when back in the Psychedelic Era people quoted that, it was mostly to foster drug experiences--trans-sensual as they are.  What of enlarging the senses we already have (or are)? 

AG: Perfume is invisible.  Many people roll their eyes at it, as if you’re asking them to believe in ghosts.  There is a flaky, new age, intellectually negligent perception that surrounds scent.  But it’s an entire realm that is completely Proustian, sometimes plangent, dimensional, symphonic.  The first oudh (or agarwood) that I ever smelled gave me the impression that I had walked into a new room.  It created a space that I could now inhabit.  I think it’s funny that we can all agree on what we see, what we hear, what we taste and feel.  But not necessarily on what we smell.  It’s as if we don’t have the language yet for the sense of smell, but we’re working on it.

Robert, why do you think the sense of smell reverberates for us, as shimmering as memory?  Our other senses are more straightforward.  It’s as if every scent has the potential to sepia at the edges.  It’s as if time imprints scent more readily and hauntingly than our other senses.

RK: I’ve been thinking about that, why this veiled sense is to many people the most potent of all.  I thought about a sentence in a book I was glancing at, Pierre Bonnet’s Words & Sounds, where he says that a sound generates in the listener “an agitation at once physical and moral, intriguing and disquieting.” That seems exactly, subtly and deeply, what happens when we smell anything. My own take on the question you ask has to do with the very automatic quality of our response to odors.  We have no control over our reaction—we can’t turn away, we can’t (as we can do with music) quickly arrogate the sensation to some domain (o that’s hiphop or that’s Stravinsky)—we’re stuck with the smell, an almost unnamable ‘moral’ response that for a brief moment engages our whole sensorium.  And I think most of us hate that—hate being dragged into lust or disgust without any mental or verbal context, content, for our feelings.  The percept is so small, the effect so broad. 

AG: Yes, we are hostage to our sense of smell.  We can shut our eyes, we can turn off the music, we can spit out the food, throw out the lover, but once those molecules enter our noses, it’s really too late.  There’s a commitment to the response that is beyond choice, involuntary.  Physical pain (and pleasure) and smell are really the only things we really have to sit with – we can avoid everything else with a little effort.  I read somewhere that the perfumer doesn’t have favorite smells, because every single scent is a tool.  Having a favorite scent would be like saying, “I’m only going to use a hammer to build this house because I strongly dislike screwdrivers.”  Could I be a writer with a preference for nouns?  Our “moral” response is our “committed” response.  Once in a while, I’ll smell the smell of fresh skunk at night.  And to go from sleep to disgust to trying to wait it out – it’s completely out of my control.       

RK :  Do you think people are embarrassed by smells and that uncontrollable response — maybe the way people are embarrassed by  poetry —  the other ‘shimmering’ thing that disquiets our nice stable words?

AG: “That uncontrollable response.”  I read somewhere that when relationships end, often one person finds the other to not smell wonderfully the same anymore.  A changed smell is othering.  Poetry can be othering to the uninterested, but “shimmering” to the fluent.  Othering vs. shimmering.  Are we embarrassed by responses we can’t control?  I’m not sure.  But it does take us into our deepest, most animalic realms.  Maybe the feeling of “embarrassment” is really the feeling that something is beyond us, that we can’t capture the experience in a soundbite, that we can’t quite nail it down and we feel outside.  I actually look for the feeling of not knowing where a film, a book, a perfume, and piece of music is going.  I like the feeling of not knowing, but a lot of people don’t. 

My husband Peter had his faced wrecked in a car accident many years ago, and it really screwed up his sinuses.  Most of the time, he can’t smell much.  But once in a while, his sense of smell becomes superacute, and he can smell the most minute things.      

Scent and text are both potentially disquieting, disordering and suturing in the same way.  Lately, I think a lot about our moral responsibility to find new language in order to make a new world.  Maybe things are so fucked right now because we don’t have the language to create solutions.  And it seems like the worse things get, the more language undergoes a public reduction.  The trick will be to find ways to make language work with a Deleuze-ian “yes/and” instead “either/or.”  To set up strategies of inclusion – to make things “mean” multi-valently, to allow the vast complexities into our language, because they are already in our world.

While public language seems to undergo a simplification, perfume undergoes a complicating.  There are companies devoted to finding new molecules that would never be found in nature, to make scents we could never find in the natural world.  A perfume now might contain hundreds of compounds to unify them into “lilac,” a scent that can’t be created from natural ingredients.  I read that a 2009 New York Times article estimates the perfume industry makes an annual $25 to $30 billion, that 83 percent of women wear perfume occasionally and 36 percent wear fragrance every day.  Maybe once I thought of perfume as a “minor” art, but it’s pretty major.  An invisible art.  And there is enough mainstream interest to support small and successful niche perfumeries that are like small poetry presses.

RK: As you compose the poem, would you admit to some sort of intention of making the poem "feel like" the perfume?  Can a poem work in some similar way, summoning neural responses?  So that a perfume based on oudh, or with oudh in mind (that's a lovely thought in itself), somehow smell different from one based on neroli?

AG: To fortify myself to answer your question, Robert, I’ve slathered myself with Chergui (Serge Lutens by Christopher Sheldrake).  It smells like hay and honey and unburnt tobacco.  To italicize its name as if it were a poem…

I was thinking about this question all night, and my first starts at it were riddled with fallacies, but seem important somehow.  Language, by its nature, is a collection of signifiers, road signs that point at things.  In poetry, sometimes we are able to make language a thing itself, instead of only what it points to, when language offers itself as a form of materiality.  I often think of writing as a type of architecture, like I’m constructing a building on the page.  Language has that level of “thingness” to me.

Then I was thinking about how language points to things, and perfume IS the thing.  Or is it really?  Behind the scenes feats of extreme chemistry produce an olfactory mirage.  Certain scents cannot be taken, distilled, reduced from nature.  That intense smell of an oriental lily can’t be taken from the plant itself.  All sorts of chemical fireworks happen (new molecules, combinations of molecules) unknown to us, to give us the impression of a lily.  It’s a true alchemy.

All the poems I’ve written about so far are about perfumes that carry behind them, a hypnotic (to me anyway) “story” that I want to follow, or rewrite, or extend.  For example, Au Lac (Eau d’Italie by Alberto Morillas) is meant to summon the garden on a small island in the middle of an Italian lake where a 20th century Futurist painter seduces a 15th century princess (who was also a poet and devotee of Michelangelo).  That tiny story alone makes me crazy with happiness for the ridiculous and passionate leaps it makes.  I don’t want these poems to point to neroli.  I want them to become something else likewise in their wild combining.  The perfume becomes the “jumping off point” into the poem.  The cliff. 

Charlotte made me this perfume last year.  I had brought her a tiny vial of something I’ve got called Morphia.  I can’t remember where I got it or why I have it.  There is no information on the bottle of this black, viscous liquid.  She sniffed it and could discern rose, patchouli and sandalwood.  So she mixed up a batch in conversation with the tiny vial and gave it to me.  For the first two months, all I could smell was rose, and it seemed to fail.  Then I opened it later and all the pieces sang together something strange.  And wonderful.  I wear it now before I got to sleep sometimes and it’s very peaceful to sleep in a smell so perfectly unified.  A unified field.  Duncan’s “opening.”

Speaking of sleep, I’ve had two nights in a row of sleeping in different perfumes, and them producing (do they?) dreams.  First, I wore a white ambergris to bed and dreamed these dreams of organizing my life, cleaning up, putting old clothes into bags and getting stuff and finding stuff I need.  I was an organizational goddess!  Then I wore Chergui to bed last night, I dreamed of horses as pets exactly like dogs roaming around R&F Paints.  I recently bought a strange and floral oudh from Thailand that came with promises of astral projection.  No sleeptravel so far…

I don’t have the type of synthesthesia that would make a poem about neroli become or be like neroli.  I wish I did!  But the lessons in perfume, the combining of wildly disparate scents to produce something new (“Make it new!”), push me to find new ways to fit language together, instigate me to link the unlinkable until language has that new thing to tell me.  Why would I want it to tell me what I already know?  I’m not looking for equivalences in poetry and perfumery.  Only that one informs the other, or pushes the other into a new dimensionality.    

Funny that you bring up oudh.  In all my life, I’ve never met another person, another animal, another substance, another place with the colossal range of this odd stuff.  Oudh is produced by a viral infection to the agarwood tree (an odd parallel to the botrytis on grapes that produces the nectar Sauternes).  That wood is steeped in water until the oil collects on the surface and is collected.  Some oudh is alarmingly fecal to western noses, some is floral, some is woody like a forest floor, some is medicinal.  It differs according to how it’s produced and where.  Borneo supposedly has the best oudhs in the world.  That I could make a poem, write poetry with the range of this substance?  Perfume asks us to go deeper, longer into what’s possible.  To rethink of the limits of what we know, our own edges, to document the world and its vertigos.  

Robert, are there perfumes you remember as being important or startling or transporting to you over the years?

RK— Never mind about me, I’ll get to that in a moment.  But you’ve just thrilled me with one of the grandest and most precise articulations I’ve seen of what poetry is, must be, now and hereafter. “new ways to fit language together…until language has that new thing to tell me.”  There it is.  I call it revelation (because I stink of frankincense and temple), you call it “that new thing”  And as you spoke about the compounding and alchemic fussing of perfumery, I thought about how richly blended, compounded, your work is.  And I remember the old pharmaceutical word ‘exhibit’—-to add a substance to a substance to be administered, and how it is our word to show.  And that is the extraordinary business in your recent work, your hundred pages of perfume shastras.  They have the startling freshness of flarf, in the embrace  of the rich affectual tenderness of propositional poetry, When I read your new work I feel I am reading something utterly new, a kind of (at last) 3-D poetry, where words lead plausibly to other words in tuneful sequences, and all that, but behind them there’s a strange spacious hinterland, a wind from elsewhere making us doubt the foregrounded text—-a dance, so to call it, between statement and erasure.  But all done without pretentiousness or gimmickry of any kind—-just words on the page, ma’am.   It gives me a pleasure I haven’t found elsewhere, the rich crazy sensuous presences of your work, the stern, technological vocabulary, the thingliness of words.  When I can get people to listen, I tell them Write what you don’t know, write what you’ll never learn until you write it, write in Thinglish.  And those are just the things you’re doing, but pistoning off this keen sensory hallucination of perfume.   So, to answer your question, some perfumes were important to me, but they were invariably the result of associating the blend with the person.    But essential scents themselves, those are different. Answering your question makes me aware that there’s probably a moiety in the world:  perfume people and scent people.  I am immensely moved by some scents:  sandalwood, patchouli, bergamot and (negatively) birch.  So the mixing mingling alchemy of perfume eludes me—perhaps because the raw smells of the essential oils are so compelling.  I must be a fauve… but not when it comes to the poem.  Anne, have I talked myself towards an aporia?  Have I gotten too far from your work?

AG: I like the idea of you as a fauve and a Fauve.  The wild beast painting in inappropriately odd or bright colors.  Again, the weird juxtaposition adding again to our animal paints.

I’ve put on Vetiver Extraordinaire (by Dominique Ropion for Frederic Malle) to respond to you (and thrill myself).  VE starts with a peculiar cumin note that extends the vocabulary of all that medicinal and dusty grassiness and camphor.  How can we extend our own language?  What unknown cumins can we add to make it strange enough to tell us new things?  These poems seem “Technicolor” to me, to your “3D.”  They are big enough that I don’t know them that well.  Thankfully big enough, and as is all my work, written in a sort of willed aphasia.   

We’ve had conversations about how to restore poetry as a great art.  As a culture, are we moving away from the abstract into the purely sensual, the visual?  Has the sensual become the virtual?  Is language becoming vestigial in terms how we tap our canes like the blind through the world?  Can we resurrect language by connecting it more deeply to the sensual?  And have our physical landscapes become more emphatically virtual?  Where is the scent and taste and touch of our language?  Can we touch the invisible sculpture of language?     

Hmmm, perfume people vs. scent people.  People who write poetry and those that write poems.  I’m definitely the former.  You told me once that while out on a walk, you turned around and followed a woman wearing patchouli, as a completely unconscious act.  Can scent form “songlines” in a way, singing us, our landscapes, into being, forming invisible strands linking us to each other?  Does it form its own unseen sculpture?  Is perfume really just another form of photography, painting’s younger sister, always compared and found lacking, and like photography was until the 1980s, relatively inexpensive?  With recent bans on perfume ingredients, is perfume about to become an even more collectible art?

I had a brief conversation with Michael Ives recently, how he completely fell in love with the language around perfume, not with perfume itself.  We talked about being riveted by the text the book Perfume: The Guide Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, that he has used it in writing exercises in his classes.  Riveted.  Mechanically.  Hinged.  “The language around,” what we’re trying to construct until it’s no longer “around,” but its own scented architecture, an armature,  complete with defined spaces.  Build it, and remove the scaffold.  

RK: When the scaffolding is knocked away, the poem stands. Charlotte (from whom almost anything I know about so many things derives) reminds me of the three notes in a perfume: top note, middle tone, bottom tone.  Naturally my operatic disposition makes them soprano, tenor and bass. But she notices that each page of the work of yours we've been talking about, each page is like a perfume in that it seems to flourish the three notes--three styles of typographic imposition.  Is this a deliberate incantation on your part?  Or is it one more of the grand pervasive Indo-European trinities that Dumezil alerted us to?  Surely poems have their sillage too, the afterness, but then they always have that.  And yours leave in my sensorium a sense of richness, intellectual play on a very serious playground, and always a deeper shimmer hovering nigh.  So, tell us about three...   

I have a suspicion of trinities, having been brought up Catholic.  Threes, fours, there IS numbers’ magic going on in the demolition surrounding each of these poem.  And in the last few years, I’ve seen a number of performances of the Kairos Consort singing various Bach cantatas, always in the background of making these poems.  I go to hear Kairos sing at the monastery across the street every chance I get.  The multi-vocal seriality always at play.  Three fingers chordally down on piano keys, the notes unfolding in a perfume, its scroll unwinding. 

In the end, some fundamental quantum poetics, the attempt to let language mulit-valently mean many things at once, be in many places at once, inhabit many forms at once.  Dumezil’s priests, warriors, commoners.  At once.  I’ve been thinking of these poems as Hadron Colliders with their smashing of disparate things.  I dump language into these poems, accelerate it, and maybe in the end, particles I never knew existed.  What language has comes to tell us.  Its polytheism, its plasticity, the baroque hidden chemistries.



Night Repeated Daily by a Teacher of Italian Intervals

after the perfume Les Nuits d’Hadrien
(made for Annick Goutal by Camille Goutal and Isabelle Doyen)

A reinterpreted night
bathed in a spangled darkness
Hours fall downwards and alleviate the darkness
When orange bring heat to your skin
a chordal succession lays down a sun
Lemon flutter: green, acidic, Sicilian
Heat averages cypress
Basil falls in leafpetalsheets
We look out over a juniper-filled bay

Cringing, I found the citrus too acidic and strange
shadowed by herbaceous qualities
I own Eau d'Hadrien which I find too lemony
The lemon, although present, doesn't play a huge part in this composition
The mandarin orange stands out the most
especially with the aromatic herbs surrounding it

Miserable echo mills
Novelles, nomads, numeriques
Les secretes blanches d’une demoiselle
Hadron collider, toilet partitions
The history of your walls
A circle around him thrice, a paper basket
A blood type to remember
A new tab will appear on the ribbon if
A table of constant weights

[I am subject to a pathetic fallacy / its cloud of hesperidic ambered cypress / I discovered it early last autumn / I've been wearing it steadily ever since / Subscribe & Save: Sign up to have this item delivered at a regular interval of your choice]

Tamil songs, talent trees wow, a tile roof
Vesperia symphonia genji
A torrent of facial workout
What if you were reincarnated as
reindeer food
or airport luggage?
Reintegrative shaming, the reintroduction of wolves
Reinterpreting property
Chicken décor, dinnerware, nightlights
Lightart, night sweats, googles
Nightshade, white satin, pufflings

Le Nuits d'Hadrien has a dark aura
of citrusy warmth and exotic cooking spices
I made a pork roast once
which I seasoned with bay leaves, orange pulp and rosemary
This fragrance reminds me of that beautiful winter dish

Let’s                           Let’s tell a new story about how
the Emperor Hadrian reinterpreted the Tuscan night
how he was a magical teacher of Italian intervals
We are soaked in darkness
tell                               It knits around us
Undersky inland inlaid with our walking
When character is spiced with oranges
and it burns deepred and also falls
a                                  When the heat is functional and single on your skin
When it smells like calmness and time
Lemon comes in chords and reflects its own facts
Put this in place: solar Toscana
story                           happening in exchange for color
Bergamot, inland cedar, basil
Egyptian cumin comes in contact with our approximate bays
Amber comes in the from the east and acts surprised
about                          Let’s make a note of ourselves in tangerine, musk, green

Can be worn without any problem
in a hot/humid country
If the original was too tart, give this a try
Airy and light enough for hot weather
it opens in the classical Eau De Cologne style

Templar symbols, plush sequins
Determine the number of deer
and destroy the island of shopkeepers
Silk depicted, use “Our Lady of Guadalupe” in a sentence
An ecosystem balanced in woodland
An artistically abstract goal
A cell at the beginning of mitosis
She was a snow florist
Gel bra cataclysm, an oblivion of items
A wedding soup in translation

[As the first dawn turns to the last sundown, Les Nuits d'Hadrien is born / Men's 3.4 oz EDT Spray at an everyday discount price on! / Become your very own wonder woman / Have this / Want this  / You have 0 wants left]

The brightside of a perfection in dresses
A clapalong
infused with bloodlight
infused with wow
Dreft depravity, Dawn soap, bird mites
Touch ministries in plain swim sight
in dash navigation, let me dwell in a movie-ed confusion
When the noon has darkness around its eyes
around its neck
A night riddled with animations
Should the puja room door close:
an opera
in wishterrorsweat

An interesting twist with the appearance
of an astringent artemisia note
joined by herbs and something coniferous
An oriental which I can appreciate for its restraint and light style
It has two distinct phases
The first is an herbal-green scent very much in the style of Eau d’Hadrien

This is a new history of night
night repeated daily by a teacher of Italian intervals
To walk under the knit of night
The sky
inside inlaid with red-darkness
burns with the rare scent of heat
that chooses your skin
Recently calm was uncovered
Time lightens itself of facts
Lemon expertly cables a solar code of Tuscan permissions
Mandarin green acids average with fame
Egypt at the center of this cumin-ed bay
makes a strange eastern base
Green mandarin mandarin / bergamot / mosswhite

There is an aromatic citrus/green aspect
which suggests a fine, classic EdC

GROUP. Citrus-Aromatic
GENDER. Safe choice for both male & female.
        CREATIVITY. Another citrus scent but very wisely blended

You certainly won’t impress wearing this one
but that is not always the point

Can you capture a prayer with photography?
Satellite images of her seizures, coughs
Study forms and their templates
Nightmare, cherry tree, velvet cloak, killing paper
Starlet skies, mood lipgloss
Speed reflects on the windshield, reflective learning paper
Transparent teal
The sunroof is the fundamental flaw of this country
I first believed in the power of obituaries
then in glass anointing, whitening

[Gift wrap available / Fragrance fit for a princess inspired by a night time stroll under a starry Mediterranean sky / Les Nuits d'Hadrien is a citrusy, spicy and warm green mandarin / Zesty tangerine combine with hints of basil]

When nature calls pest control
Her hair was made of gas
A valley filled with photography and quotes
Set apart girl, set aside prayer
Dustland fairytale disease
Dusky dolphin enemies
I come iridescent without being fetched
From the belly of god
Dusk shark, marine
Dusk fang oblivion
Dusk fatigue

The finely balanced hesperidic opening
(lemon zest, mandarin, bergamot
and a touch of star anise)
I wish it could last longer
Delicious bright yellow lemony opening
turns soon into a quite ordinary week

Contact                      This is a new historical and redundant night
the type that requires a Tuscan explanation
of this pregnant place
is                                 where Italy’s intervals are an inconceivable teacher
We soak up night and knit our walks under a corner-mounted sky
Salty orange characters smell like autumn’s burnt darkred
The heat chooses your skin
intrinsic                      and exposes it to tranquility and time
Illuminated components are a lowland reflection
A new lemon smells like an expert
sends cable codes to the sun, an investment
and                             Color revises smell in
lemon permissions spoken in Chinese
with a green and acid bergamot
probably                    Average in crowndaisy chrysanthemum to this Egyptian center
Contact is intrinsic and probably a transformation
is fragrant and warmer with promiscuous functions
a                                  Amber is a strange basic eastern part
Nights famous for afforestation
standard spoken Chinese standard spoken
transformation         and lemon and sandalwood, mossamber

Perhaps unisex, no problem
but what I think is how exquisitely it would probably work
on skin to skin action
with some beautiful woman. – PigeonMurderer – Finland
Mouthwatering, sour, realistic lemon
I don't believe it will attract many adoring fans

My desk falls apart
Church Motors Catholic Credit Union
Rocker arm noise by surprise, wrist pin knock, system bounce
She glistened
with cold
with a neck so long
and a negative spirit prevailing

The new food pyramid might include:
coves in Bermuda

Found calm
money sleeps in caskets in the calmness thesaurus
To give off light as a smell
synonyms sparkle
Caffeine as perspiration
as definition

[A sharp and complex fragrance that manages to be subtle enough not to intoxicate with its opulence / As the first dawn turns to the last sundown / a cypress tree in Tuscany scents an evening in the Mediterranean with its mandarin green]

The sensation of vinyl pressing into information
A rare skin disease with a greenish color
Seaweed, extract from the earth its magnets
Seashells, snapbacks, Tantric soap – black currant, vanilla
Allergies in the workplace
One easy delicious sentence
in old roses cross-stitched with oak
Our kidneys, our spiritual strivings
or having to do with the lungs

Picture a lemon creamsicle dipped in gold
that came in an opulent sandalwood box
It reminds me of Christmas Eve as a child
It could easily be used in the summer
It has an outdoor feel to it
A confused, unfinished fragrance
with a lot of projection

Recite Italy’s intervals with an inconceivable teacher
who regards a redundant night as a woven patrol
A description mounts from an explanation
There is a new history of Hadrian under this sky
Chinese characters tranquilly, recently smell like salted oranges
their spices exposed and therefore possible
The rare smell of an autumned burntred darkness
Heat chooses your skin and illuminates your reflected facts
This is the new lemon – a telegraphed code
An expert invests in the sun
Color revised smell to order this permission
Lemon, Chinese standard speech, green and sour bergamot
Coronarium (white ginger lily)
and the chrysanthemum’s famous average
The Bay of Egypt affects us promiscuously
Amber makes a night famous with afforestation
Standard speech Chinese standard speech Chinese
lays in the moss

The patchouli overwhelms the citrus
and there's a nagging cumin
in the background silently screaming for attention
yet getting none
More of a combination of hairspray and patchouli –
something of the "society ladies" in the little farm town
where I grew up

Pink wedding black, silver illusion necklace
Spiders get along together, spiritually speaking
War dogs bring water to dry places
The glow of other suns is for sale
A tolerant Dracula dances in a battlefield
Your skeletal system is pale white and ice cold
Your skin makes me cry younger lyrics
You take the cast off smoking

[…comes in two different concentrations with designations more or less female/male / This scent is a student of the French Art Decoration School / A hand-painted cypress tree illustrates our new limited edition Les Nuits d'Hadrien with orange stars]

Sunny days are single musical tones
Successories, fresh frozen plasma, easy corporate fun
Salt water so clean, spaetzle sportswear, Choctaw casino
The grenade was also a halleluiah
Everlong acoustic
What is the character of gasoline?
Let’s go to the Chinese typewriter store
Let’s change fractions to decimals

I thought that this is what
an egoiste in summer might smell like
If you like your citrus foul and pungent
(a la Eau d'Hermes or Malle Bigarade)
This one may not be a good fit for you

Hold                           Ask an incomprehensible teacher about Italy’s intervals
How they spin inside an redundant night
How description acts like a patrol
There are lots of explanations for the edges of night
the                              one of which is a new history of Hadrian under this sky
Letters smell like recently salted oranges, their spice put out
Autumn smells rarely of its own burnt density
Heat selects your skin and exposes its facts
edge                           The new lemon is a telex code, expert as it invests in the sun
Hold the edge of the land and clean it
Color editions our sense of smell
of                                 Lemon in standardsour
Bergamot: the language of China and green
the                              The chrysanthemum’s famous average
between coronation and culmination
Egypt is multicolored with disorder
land                            When amber is strange and fundamental, eastern as a subject of night

In the quest for
the fully rounded citrus wardrobe
this one is essential
A definite considered purchase
for those of us not made of money
This is one that I can admire but not love
I'm willing to cut the powder notes some slack here

Hydrangea knitted with grout
Auras, amniotic fluid, antifreeze
A mineral lion
Skullbone prefixes gin joint
A thousand days of thinking bubbles
A tuna Christmas, a pie Jesus in Mimicville
Sunflower festival tanning
Travertine, this present darkness is condemned to a photograph
This person doesn’t allow invitations
There is a perfume taste in my mouth

[Les nuits d' Hadrien racontent une nouvelle histoire / Une parenthèse italienne enchantée, bénie par l'obscurité, inspirée par une promenade dans un jardin / A a refreshing trail of fresh and ambery citruses that tell an enrapturing story as the luminous day turns to the sorcerous  night]

The percussion of white dresses
The shape of an I on her forehead + baton twirling
The stars are made of sangria, sake
Her sugared show clothes
How do the missing smell?
Cut grass, placid cows, Christmas aromatique simmers
She is a citation machine
Beurre blanc, bergamia
The side effects of the Sicilian Defense
or a resort in the middle of a volcano of proverbs

Not so much bugspray
or washing detergent
as the original
Heavenly hot summer evenings on the patio
trailing vines swaying in the desert wind
Adobe walls giving back the solar heat they've soaked in
during the blazing hours

When night is depicted as flood
by an excessive teacher
who has incomprehensibly spun Italian intervals inside night
The lower parts of the sky attach themselves to explanation
We demand a new history of Hadrien from the edges of night
Handletter it recently, peacefully with a salty orange smell
The smell of autumn is rarely possible any other time
having, rising in compliance in deepred degrees
Spices strung along your skin ignite
Reflected emissions distinguish our factual last
A new lemon smell in its case, a facsimile
A new publication of its smell
Open the sun and clean it
The sun is in leaf
Lemon languages China, it’s national flower
Our domestic sciences are noble and wise and average
the effects received only from disorder
Amber dances on the eastern side of night
a subject which is so basic and also so strange
a telerecording of a standard language
Lemon basted with sandalwood, musk

Very subtle, and there is a warmer feeling
than is usually the case with citruses
In the heart notes, the herbs and conifers
continue in elegance toward a rich, full accord
I think the cumin plays a very important role
On my skin, the entire progression takes a little over an hour
The dry down is a bit annoying

Juice, ice, chicken, white cake, liqueur
Lemonmouth, lemon grenade
Gold wedding
Coffee brown pink wedding
Apple barnriver wedding
Purpleblack wedding
White anaconda yellowsong gold wedding
Accessor and mutator methods
Tanorexia, quartz music
Tissue paper boxes with fire

[Have you tried any of the above? / Can you recommend anyone with the same notes? / The colors of sunset: mysterious warm sensual top notes / Need a perfect scent to go with your spring yellow outfit? / Les Nuits d'Hadrien fits the bill with the spicy lemon scent / A pretty bottle with old world charm]

Velvet banks under sun given to
a middle name generator
A piercing gardenia, mimosa
make up some notes that float around
and sound good together
What is the smallest unit of music
that still thinks of you?

It contains one of
the most classic French combinations:
orange and amber!
This is a common combination found
in many distinctly French fragrances and toiletries
that I use on myself and my children almost daily
I know this combination very intimately
from childhood until present

A                                  An approximate night is flooded with description
and turns incomprehensible
Italian intervals spread out, their expenditure of night
An interior lower part of the sky
transfer                      attaches to night’s edge
Mark with letters the recently peacefully salted orange
When autumn meets your skin with its carefully chosen spices
When a bottom-of-the-range facsimile of lemon
of                                 arrives like a new publication
its edges rectified and invested  with permission
science                                  The sun opens and cleans him
Sheet, lemon, China, flowers crowning
A transfer of science might domesticate an Egyptian cumin
might                          Effects received only from disorder
Hadrian’s night is so basic and so strange
like a telerecording of a standard language
domesticate             how it indicates business through its lemons

Until I return to the workforce
I will enjoy its more affordable, fleeting, and common blood relative
It comes the closest to poetically capturing
the desert sky at night
I don't know how, but trust me on this

A book shattered like the birth of prison
A carnivorous fat medicine
A kiss cam under the sign of gorgeous
The state of Ohio when exposed to cold
Her glowblood for sale
Winter ovens over her lyrics
when it snows less snow

[Spices brings warmth to your skin, and is pleasing to share / Parfum hespéridé, oriental et amber / Une composition de mandarine verte, tangerine acidulée, bergamote / The Annick Goutal Boutique online ships to the following European countries:  Austria]

These are tough times for typing
The edge of your heart under a clavicle, a clavier
Three digit orange beauty
We’re in Bling Country, Missouri
Cypress turning yellow, turning brown turning black
in Hindi, in Spanish yellowing

There is something ancient in this
something that seems to go back to cultures from long ago
and that makes it fascinating to me
The kinds of things people
in ancient Rome or India
may have scented themselves with or burned
in urns as incense

When does it become excessive to be a student of intervals?
When is it impossible to understand these floods of description?
Turn off the approximate night
and attach it to the lower part of the sky
How do we fix our nights inside?
Explanations recently in orange add to the salt of peace
There are signs where a letter has been attached
to a darkred density of its reflections on your skin
Fire chords adjust to measure time
Colors publish themselves in facsimile
The sun continues to open up each of us methodically
The green in which you follow the Chinese language
and the new coursing movements of science
Under the Hadrian night
we are basic and strange and famous
we follow the sound recording of distant lemon
the whites that act like amber
the shake of ylang ylang against the distant Oh Lemon

Of course
too much of a good thing is
too much
I soon found out
that the smell did not last very long
so a lady in the perfume shop gave me this advice:
because of the conditions found in male skin
men should always use a moisturizing cream
before using a perfume
just to make it last longer
Equivalent extract eaten
Should I leave out the rest?
The discography of your eyes
under cotton sheets

[An enchanting Italian interlude bathed in electronics, cars, clothing, apparel, collectibles, sporting goods, digital cameras, and everything else / 70% off retail prices on Les Nuits,
Hadrian's sexy older sister]

Juno in Pisces, junkyards, juniper credit cards
Toxicity in the Juniper Book
Trifles that makes everything taste sweet
The singer, the body, the peace of dead things
in a jar from the heartland
Rumba playing with the right set of eyes
How does Christ smell, or Tacoma, or coffee, or the Alps?
Or servanthood?
Your shoulders have been abducted
and replaced with sunflowers
or you’re drinking a bottle of sauvignon blanc out of spite
Salt and its sacraments over
an absinthe-minded dreamscape

I am a little bored
of the all in all
quite overrepresented
citrus notes of this smell
But you never forget a first love

Their                           Are we excessive in our Italian intervals?
You cannot occupy a central flood of description
and touch the actual rough parts of night
Had Hadrian hoped to determine the extent of night?
rope                            Recently, orange added its own salt to the story
letters marked by their own infrequent lines
their darkred slowness, an exemption of skin
codes                         Fires select their seasons, their rope codes

Quite unknown
and unfortunately
terribly underrated
This night time version of the original Hadrien
has some brilliantly executed
semi-dirty musk notes
accompanying the regular lemon blasts

Rose collapse, mosquitos, vinyl-ly
Vanilla twilight, vanilla offense
A wildlife experience
a theoretical lens
a flight from Syria to Madris
a competitive landscape
a reason for handwriting
Offer a cobra
Write a weather report adventure poem
Come up with a fact about cells that is also about your mother
Baskets filled with black and gold ejected images
The curvature of your mask
Mango gaming dragonet fish

[I've tried on it on paper only and liked it, but have never worn it / But with more pronounced notes of orange zest, precious woods and touch of musk / Nuit Étoilée seems like a cousin of Goutal's Eau d'Hadrien and Les Nuits d'Hadrien / A delicious burst

Tangerine clementine kool-aid
Bridesmaid dresses summarized in vines
Dreams made out of quartz and music and books
Her eyes are shadowed with coupons for Chanel
slippery shrimp eyeshadow
wiki wrist malas
What white hide-paint can do for you spiritually
There are mushroom in the lawn
Sheer woods filled with pear trees, mallow, galbanum, salt

It all ends in a pleasantly spicy drydown
and my only complaint would be
it's somewhat short duration
My girlfriend also made the remark
that I smelled like her 60-year old father
Not exactly what I was looking for

Open and measure time
Clean copies, smells are informed publications
and consequently the sun
because there is a new lemon
A course of locomotion over acid green, cumin
when musk, tangerine, dill, moss, Chinese characters
become the standard science of our intervals 


Anne Gorrick is the author of: I-Formation (Book 2) (Shearsman Books, Bristol, UK, 2012), I-Formation (Book 1) (Shearsman, 2010), and Kyotologic (Shearsman, 2008).  She is currently co-editing (with poet Sam Truitt) an anthology of innovative Hudson Valley poetry titled In|Filtration: A Hudson Valley Salt Line (Station Hill Press, Barrytown, NY, 2014).  

She collaborated with artist Cynthia Winika to produce a limited edition artists’ book called “Swans, the ice,” she said with grants through the Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, NY, and the New York Foundation for the Arts.  She has also collaborated on large textual and/or visual projects with John Bloomberg-Rissman and Scott Helmes.   

She curates the reading series, Cadmium Text, which focuses on innovative writing in and around the New York’s Hudson Valley ( ) She also co-curates, with Lynn Behrendt, the electronic journal Peep/Show at  Her visual art can be seen at:

Anne Gorrick lives in West Park, New York.


Robert Kelly was born in Brooklyn (Marine Park, Sheepshead Bay, Old Mill, City Line, Crown Heights), studied at CCNY and Columbia (1951-1958); worked with and learned from the wonderful poets of the Lower East Side scene — Paul Blackburn, Jerome Rothenberg, David Antin, George Economou, Diane Wakoski, Jackson MacLow, Armand Schwerner — helping develop the Blue Yak bookshop on 10th Street, Trobar magazine, and Trobar Books.  1960-61:  taught at Wagner College on Staten Island.  Soon after the inauguration of John Kennedy, migrated to the Hudson Valley and has lived there ever since, in Annandale, teaching at Bard College.  He was the first Poet-in Residence at CalTech, and has taught or done residencies at Yale, Tufts, USC, Kansas, Dickinson, Buffalo and elsewhere. 

Among his  many books of poetry (starting with Armed Descent, 1961), are Finding the Measure, Flesh Dream Book, A Common Shore, The Loom, The Convections, A Strange Market, Lapis, May Day, Sainte Terre, Fire Exit, Uncertainties.  His fiction includes the novels The Scorpions, Cities, and The Book from the Sky, and five collections of short fiction: A Transparent Tree, Doctor  of Silence, Cat Scratch Fever, Queen of Terrors, and Logic of the World.  Forthcoming are a collection of poems, The Secret Name of Now; five recent plays, Oedipus after Colonus and Other Plays; a cycle of poems on archeo-linguistics, Opening the Seals; and the long poem The Hexagon.  Pierre Joris and Peter Cockelberghe are editing a two-volume collection of essays by and about RK.   Currently teaches in the Written Arts Program of Bard College, where from 1980 to 1992, he was a founding member of the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts (1980-1992).  He lives in Annandale with his wife, the translator Charlotte Mandell. 

1 comment:

  1. This is a great, great, great, great, great, great, great exchange.

    Let me be clear: I really liked it.