Book Title: Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass
Author: Lana Del Rey
Genre: Poetry, Contemporary, Pop Culture
Blurb from Goodreads
The New York Times bestselling debut book of poetry from Lana Del Rey, Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass.
The collection features more than thirty poems, many exclusive to the book: Never to Heaven, The Land of 1,000 Fires, Past the Bushes Cypress Thriving, LA Who Am I to Love You?, Tessa DiPietro, Happy, Paradise Is Very Fragile, Bare Feet on Linoleum, and many more.
The hardcover edition showcases Lana’s typewritten manuscript pages alongside her original photography. The result is an extraordinary poetic landscape that reflects the unguarded spirit of its creator.
I absolutely loved Lana Del Rey’s early albums. I own both Born to Die: The Paradise Edition and Ultraviolence. Listened to them incessantly back in the day. And then somehow I kinda forgot she existed. I don’t mean that as an insult. I’m just sorta flaky like that and unless I’ve remembered to sign up to an artist’s newsletter I will forget to check for new music! I’ve even done it with my absolute fav musician and was pleasantly surprised when I was watching Eurosport’s Australian Open coverage some years back and heard his distinctive vocals singing a song unknown to me, looked it up and boom, discovered he was releasing a new album a couple of weeks later!
But I digress… let’s get back to Lana.
When I first heard Video Games I was utterly taken in by the whole vibe. Del Rey is mercurial almost. She’s got so many different facets to her music that you never quite know who the real Lana is … if I recall correctly her name isn’t actually Lana Del Rey and that is instead a stage name.
I’ve always found Del Rey’s songs to be incredibly interesting with this strange fatalistic yet utterly addictive ambience. So when I stumbled across this collection of poetry in my library’s eCatalogue I was fascinated to see how her creative artistry would translate to poetry.
And much like any collection of poetry it had its hits and misses.
The collection opens with the poem from which the title is taken, Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass, and this poem proved to be my favourite.
…and saw Violet
bent backwards over the grass
7 years old with dandelions grasped
tightly in her hands
arched like a bridge in a fallen handstand
grinning wildly like a madman
with the exuberance that only doing nothing can bring
waiting for the fireworks to begin
and in that moment
i decided to do nothing about everything
forever.from Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass by Lana Del Rey
I just loved the rhythms of that poem. And to me it’s a poem about opening yourself up to possibilities and change… I’m sure that there are people out there who would tell me my interpretation is all wrong but that’s what I love about poetry, about books, about music… there’s never a right or wrong way to interpret art. It’s all about how it makes you feel. And for me this poem struck a deep chord with me and I found it to be incredibly moving.
I would also like to give a shout out to the poem Never to Heaven. As parts of that really did speak to my soul. It’s a poem all about inner strength and knowing yourself, and I liked it a lot.
Interspersed throughout the book were also photos of random scenery and people and honestly, all of the photos were lost on me. I’m just not a very visual person. The written and spoken / sung word is what I prefer.
And the book ended with a bunch of haikus which were not my jam at all. I appreciate they are a perfectly precise art form and often times deeply moving, but these ones written by Del Rey weren’t to my taste. Sorry!
Overall this was an absorbing read and I’m very glad I read it.
Because while the majority of the poems may not have felt entirely relatable to my take on life (my world is very much not LA!), I feel they give a really interesting insight into the person behind Lana Del Rey. In my opinion she has an incredibly compelling voice whether she’s writing poetry or song lyrics. At times I admittedly found the poetry lacked the lyricism, structure, and rhythms that appeal to me personally, and at some points the poetry was nothing short of cheesy, BUT the themes covered were always fascinating which made for an unputdownable read.
Guess it’s time for me to go dig out my old Lana CDs now.