Lana Del Ray poetry
Five months after announcing the book, Del Ray has finally started leaking details. (Image via Billboard)
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Lana Del Ray poetry

‘Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass’ promises a chapbook composed of her signature lyricism. Is that a good thing?

Since January, pop star Lana Del Rey has teased the idea of writing and releasing a book of poetry. She’s showcased a few of her works on Instagram, but nothing has really come out of her announcement. However, the musician recently shared that a few of her original poems will be featured in the upcoming edition of Vogue Italia.

While Del Rey is primarily known as a singer, she writes most of her own songs and material, so poetry could be a logical progression. Indeed, an unparalleled feature of her music is the elegiac rhythm of her words. Songs like “Video Games” and “Blue Jeans” are written more poetically than most modern-day lyrics, as they’re complete with organized stanzas and elegant, albeit obscure phrasing. She finds inspiration in Amy Winehouse and Nancy Sinatra, but also in artists like Walt Whitman.

Del Rey announced that her book, “Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass,” will include a collection of poetry she’s written in the past year, and could possibly be turned into music eventually. As of now, there is still no official release date, but she has released a few works over mediums like Instagram and Vogue. Fans know that she will be self-publishing the book to smaller, mom-and-pop bookstores around California in the next few months, or at least that’s how long she thinks it will take her to bind the books. As for price? When a fan inquired, Del Rey answered, “$1… because my thoughts are priceless.”

It all started September 2018 when Del Rey revealed to Zane Lowe her interest in writing a book, mentioning “13 kind of long poems” that might be included in the collection. She also had what she believes is a small book’s worth of haikus, which gave her the idea for “Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass.”

The working title was based off one of her favorite poems she’d written, and to the public’s knowledge, she hasn’t changed it since. Del Rey posted the poetry project announcement on Instagram in early January. The post is now deleted, but in it, she told her followers that she “finished a short book of poetry I’ve been writing over the last few months that I’ll be putting out later.”

In mid-February, the singer-songwriter began releasing samples on Instagram. The first post she shared was a lyrics sheet titled “happy.” Del Rey mentioned that the work was a poem from her book, and fans had more than positive reactions, some claiming that the poem was beautiful and made them break down in an outpour of raw emotion.

The 33-year-old posted throughout the month and into March, including “Quiet Waiter-Blue Flower” and a few haikus from her new book. She announced pricing and actual publishing later that month, but Del Rey still hasn’t given her fans a concrete release date.

She was a little quiet in April and focused more on promoting her latest album, “Norman Fucking Rockwell.” In late May, she published the single “Doin’ Time,” which received mixed reviews from critics. All seemed silent on the poetry front until the announcement of her poetry in the June issue of Vogue Italia.

Del Rey was photographed by Steven Klein on three individual covers, one with the title, “I’m Writing My Future.” With eerie hues and a grainy film, Del Rey appears a vintage goddess in a spare house. A few shots include simple metal furniture and a projector illuminating her antique-style clothing.

Along with her enchanting accoutrements, the “Young and Beautiful” singer was able to include some of her poetry and art in the magazine. She thanked Vogue for the opportunity over her social media, commenting, “I’m feeling super blessed that they asked me to do this and included some of my poetry – I usually like to stay low-key and stay in the studio and work but… I’m kind of in disbelief.”

One piece featured in the magazine is titled “Never To Heaven,” in which she writes, “May my eyes always stay level to the horizon / may they never gaze as high as heaven / to ask why. / May I never go where angels fear to tread / so as to have to ask for answers in the sky.”

In the poem, she wants to always stay level with the ground, never letting heaven tempt her for easy clarity. It’s possible that the poem relates to the fame and fortune she’s garnered throughout her life, and how the charm of it all seduces her — like most other artists — into believing she is more than human. Ironically, it’s hard to imagine her anything less than godly based on her Vogue Italia cover shoot.

In the few poems she’s released to the public, Del Rey evokes a warm, romantic aesthetic and the simple beauty of life. “Quiet Waiter-Blue Flower” shares a summer-vacation theme and the eternal romance of a tourist and a waiter, while “The Land of The 1000 Fire” shares a love-triangle plot with the narrator and her lovers, describing in great detail the intensity and passion of both men and their competing love.

A few untitled haikus discuss a life lived near the sea and draws comparisons between the ocean and human emotion. Lastly, “happy,” my personal favorite, portrays the narrator’s idea of wealth in contrast to her audience’s perception: a small beach house with her lover held close, whether right next to her or in her mind.

With “Violet Bent Over the Grass,” and its $1 price, Rupi Kaur’s pen is quaking. We can only hope that the wise words of Del Rey will grace bookstores soon.

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