Beyoncé’s New Fragrance Was Inspired by Maya Angelou. What Do Other Poets Smell Like?

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Dec. 20 2013 3:41 PM

Beyoncé’s New Fragrance Was Inspired by Maya Angelou and Smells Like Overcoming Adversity

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Beyoncé, rising above it all

Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Women’s Wear Daily reports this week that Beyoncé, not content to just drop a new album out of the sky and force everyone to Google “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,” will soon release a new fragrance inspired by a Maya Angelou poem. According to Marsha Brooks, vice president of global marketing for a firm that oversees Bey’s fragrance business, the perfume, called Rise, will give off a “strong sense of ‘overcoming adversity and rising above it all.’”

Based on the name of the scent, The Cut smartly guesses that Bey’s inspiration was Angelou’s “Still I Rise,” which does seem tailor-made for the star, especially the quatrain that goes:

Does my sexiness upset you? 
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs? 
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Beyoncé is actually not the first to tie her famous-person fragrance to a poet—Tilda Swinton released a scent in 2010 inspired by the Sufi poet Rumi and the scent of ginger. How long until other celebrities, eager to recreate Bey’s (and Tilda’s!) success, hop on the poet-perfume money-train? When they do, here are some suggestions:

Eau de Robert Frost: Smells like apples, woods on a snowy evening.

Eau de Emily Dickinson: Smells like clean Laundry and gunpowder.

Eau de e.e. cummings: Smells like mud-lusciousness, puddle-wonderfulness.

Eau de Wallace Stevens: Smells like the odorlessness that is not there, and the odorlessness that is.

Eau de Elizabeth Bishop: Smells like something—either codfish or knowledge—that makes one’s nose run and one’s eyes water.

Eau de William Butler Yeats: Smells like a spreading laurel tree, ale from the country of the young.

Eau de Philip Larkin: Smells like the beer bottle you knock over groping back to bed after a piss.

Eau de Sappho: Smells like disconnected notes    of incense    bright shaking leaves    hoplites?

You get the idea. Which literary treasures will Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber, and Mariah Carey grace with their brands? Our only advice is to stay away from the Beat poets, who probably don’t smell too good.

Katy Waldman is a Slate staff writer. 

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