Aromapoetry, poetry to be smelled


Aromapoetry is a book to be read with the nose” – the definition of this work by author Eduardo Kac. This is a volume consisting of a form of poetry, readable only through the nose: the pages do not contain text but smells. The pages are organized in a coherent and well-defined semantic path: each page (twelve in total) is a poem that comes from the intersection of fragrances created by combining two or more molecules. The smells have been distributed over the pages in such a way as to follow the poetic journey designed by the author. In order to avoid the fragrances being released too rapidly the pages are also coated with a thin layer of a nanoporous glass, a special material that allows a slower release of volatile molecules. The volume is also accompanied by a “reserve” of twelve vials containing the aroma used in each poem and it is elegantly bound and covered with paper treated with a metallic reflective coating. This shiny and glamorous aesthetic, combined with the limited edition of 10 signed copies makes this book very appealing, but for reasons that go beyond the simple and instinctive desire to try it. Together with taste, smell is the primary sense responsible for evoking memories. Its functioning is linked to the presence of physical particles, although they are so tiny that they seem immaterial. The smells, so closely tied to the physical world, are not involved in the use of digitization as a tool for preservation. And it is not an accident that they are embodied in this sophisticated piece of art, that uses the book as a symbol of a material and plastic as resistant to time. Like the poetry the smells play the metaphorical role of guardian: they become emblematic as physical guarantors of memories.

Chiara Ciociola