Your Name: Lisa Sornberger
Where you live: CT Where you came from: CT Your Medium: poetry The name of your work: August 31st Short Bio:
1. What made you want to participate in this project? I started reading about CONSENSES in 2014; it really struck a chord with me as a visionary project, a way to connect art and spirituality in the broadest sense. I found magic in the chains I saw, in the way the individual artists’ contributions worked together, though each had experienced only one other link in the chain. I loved the sensory overlap, the non-judgmental approach to art with no right or wrong way to proceed, and the way each contribution functioned as a cog in the wheel rather than a solo event. I felt inspired by your Ted Talk, and description of how CONSENSES came to you, and filled in that empty place you felt as a solo performer, wanting to interface with your audience vs. performing for them. At least that’s how I understood what you said. I think everyone feels a certain loneliness, what Pema Chodron calls “the genuine heart of sadness”, as we experience ourselves as being separate from the whole of life. I do believe that we are all connected somehow in the big picture. And that collaborating with others can be a genuine path to fulfill that longing we have, to realize this in our everyday lives.
2. Without going back to the fragrance what do you remember about it? I remember the fragrance sparking so many fragrances, which oddly, seemed to change as I spent time with the perfume every day for a week. I remember the scent of the wind, rain, and ocean, something green, and something floral which I thought was neroli (orange blossom). My perception of the floral kept changing…what seemed to be neroli became gardenia, then I thought perhaps there was also a bit of some kind of rose. One day it seemed classic, another, wild. I decided it smelled like a perfume I used to wear called Samsara. Until it didn’t. By the last day, wind, ocean, rain, grasses, maybe something else green, and jasmine were what it spoke to me. The fragrance that melded two different islands in my mind, one Carribean, one not.
3.What was your first reaction to the scent? (thoughts, emotions, memories, tastes, smells etc?) Honestly, I remember thinking oh, this is not what I expected at all! Why was I expecting sandalwood, and other warm scents? How could I write about a fragrance I couldn’t relate to? It was cool when I thought it would be warm. Help! I remembered trying to use a public telephone years ago, not expecting a fragrance, and feeling startled by some guy’s aftershave on it. At some point, I knew that I’d have to let go of what I imagined, and go with what actually was/is, if I wanted to dance with this perfume.
4. If you had to choose one word to sum up the scent what would it be? Voyage.
5. What emotion did it elicit? Everything from no to yes. Ultimately, a beautiful feeling of traveling, and coming home.
6. Did it tell a story? It did. It spoke to me of an ocean journey, of storms, of rain that renews the earth, and the earth itself. It told me about love and longing, separating and returning. Also, beautiful things about the night sky, under many conditions.
7. Take me through each step of your process from getting the scent to the creation of your poem. OK, let’s see. There was a rush of excitement in me, a sense of right place, right time. Fear kicked in pretty quickly. Why had I trusted my gut, thinking I was up for this challenge? I’d written poems inspired by paintings, but a perfume? Never. Who did I think I was, wanting to participate in a project with all of these terrific artists? Those negative voices inside. I felt like a fake artist, not a real one. But it didn’t stop there. I had to work, and get out of my own way. The words started to come they way they do, and fell together in a way that mostly made sense to me. I hoped they would convey what the frangrance made me experience, in a way that another person might understand. Waves of panic, waves of joy. Writing and rewriting. I never felt quite finished, but I knew I had to honor my agreement to let go of the piece after seven days. 8. What did you title your work and why? August 31st, because that was the deadline, seven days from the time I started. A rabbit rabbit moment, on the last night of the month, when you make a wish, and it can come true.
9. What part of your poem came to you first? I don’t remember. I have to look at the poem. Just did, and I still don’t know.
10. How do you normally create? How was this experience different? I write in fits and starts. I love the part of the process where somehow, the words arrive like a present, often sparked by music. And I resist the part that feels like work, the sitting down to write on a regular basis. It seems counter-intuitive somehow. But when I start revising, whoa! It’s very hard to stop. Hard to stop trying to get it “right”. This shook up that whole process. It took me into some unknown territory. It was hard, it was fun. I loved the time I spent hanging out with this fragrance. I grew to love the perfume itself, it has come to mean a lot to me.
11. What techniques/tools did you use to help you express you’re interpretation? Not sure if I understand. I sat down, lit a candle some of the time, listened to music. I kept the fragrance close at hand, and treated it like something sacred, something to be honored.
12. Are there certain choices you made which mean something specific to you that the observer might not know? Well, there is a lot of our visit to the Vineyard there. And, yes. A story that wanted to be told. Certain choices felt almost beyond my control, oddly. The fragrance seemed to call for a poem in some kind of form, though I normally write free verse. It asked for a chorus, more like a song, and I don’t know why. I tried to change it. I couldn’t.
Extra credit: Did you enjoy this project? More you want to say about your experience? I LOVED IT! It took me on a wild ride, and really made me remember why I love to write. Connecting with the work of another artist felt like a privilege. I can’t wait to see/experience the chain. If I could, I would revise the work, but I know this itself is rich territory to mine. Besides all that, it made me feel like an artist in a different way, and gave new meaning to the work itself. Thank You.