Consenses Interview with Sally Taylor:
What made you want to participate in this project? Not only am I interested in writing poetry in general; I also find this project fascinating and “right up my alley.” I’ve always been involved in multiple areas of the arts. I also have synesthesia (which is quite literally a blending of the senses). I find that ConSenses is very much suited to who I am.
Without going back to the fragrance what do you remember about it? It smelled somewhat exotic (but woodsy, not tropical) and had a more abrasive scent than more floral fragrances.
What was your first reaction to the fragrance? (thoughts, emotions, memories, tastes, smells etc?) I’m used to flowery fragrances, so I found this scent quite striking and elegant. It had a punch to it when I first smelled it, and then it mellowed into something softer, darker, earthier.
If you had to choose one word to sum up the fragrance what would it be? Sophisticated.
What emotion did it elicit? It smelled almost like a sweet kind of pain.
What was the fragrance about in your mind? (Did it tell a story? Paint a picture? Etc.) I thought of what it can be like in general to talk frankly about pain, and to see beauty in it (whether that beauty is justified or not).
Take me through each step of your process from getting the fragrance to the creation of your work. I spent a while just smelling the fragrance without deliberately trying to think about what I would write about.
What did you title your work and why? I titled my poem “Felling” (not a typo!). Felling, of course, is the act of cutting down a tree, which ties in with the nature theme of the poem. The poem (I’ll try not to give too much away) expresses the process of dying or fading away in some way (with elements of nature serving as metaphors). Felling, then, is one way to represent that final moment on earth. It also could be seen as a metaphor for someone “dropping dead.”
What part of your work came to you first? The parts about nature and pain were a given for writing the poem; I had those in my mind first. There was a line of poetry I’d had in my head for a while (the first line of the poem), and I wasn’t really sure what to do with it. I used it and wrote from there.
How do you normally create? How was this experience different? This experience was fairly similar to the way I normally write my poems. I’ll take a certain phrase that’s been floating around in my head and attach it to a general idea, often inspired by something sensory like a taste or an image.
What techniques/tools did you use to help you express your interpretation? I used simple, direct words like “look” and “now” and “see here” to grab attention, almost like a how a child points to a cut on his knee. Then, once the reader was paying attention, I could talk more elaborately about the emotions of the narrator. Setting up a sort of parallel metaphor between the narrator’s emotional and physical deterioration as well as the deterioration of nature allowed me to talk somewhat euphemistically about the darker underlying motifs in the poem.
Are there certain choices you made which mean something specific to you that the observer might not know? “The leaves are in on it” is one of the more confusing lines in the poem; what I mean to say it that the leaves are red too, just like the narrator’s eyes, as if they’re all in on this “game” or “trend” of turning red. Metaphors, of course, are always open to interpretation, and my poem is basically one big metaphor. Readers might not catch on to the fact that I was talking about self-harm in the first stanza and eating disorders in the second and third. Of course, if they have a different interpretation, that in itself changes the whole meaning of the poem.