REVIEW: Lana Del Rey’s book, 'Violet Bent Backwards over the Grass'

“Violet Bent Backwards Over The Grass” is the perfect book to read during the upcoming holiday season or gift it to a bookworm.

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It has been a long road for Lana Del Rey to finally release her poetry book, Violet Bent Backwards Over The Grass. If you have followed Del Rey for a while now, she has referenced her desire to be a poet for a long time. In her 2012 ‘Ride’ music video, she shares a soft spoken monologue, in the first four minutes. Seven years later -- Del Rey made her dreams come true -- impressing fans like me. I reviewed five poems I connected with.

Violet Bent Backwards Over The Grass

The first poem’s theme is angelic, delicate and soulful to read. In a way, it brought me back to when I discovered her music. “Violet Bent Backwards Over The Grass” is a reflection poem. She talks about going to a party, making decisions beforehand and how she then saw “Violet bent backwards over the grass / seven years old with dandelions grasped / tightly in her hands / arched like a bridge in a fallen handstand / grinning wildly like a madman.” These lines reminded me of the novel and movie scene in “Lolita.” This scene describes Humbert meeting Dolores for the first time, as she is laying in the grass, reading a magazine and grinning right at him. Del Rey has a song named “Lolita”, where she references Dolores, which might be tied to that reference.

Salamander

“Salamander” has an eerie feel. Del Rey starts by shouting: “Get out of my blood Salamander / I can’t seem to blow off enough steam to get you out of my head.” According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the term Salamander means: “a mythical animal having the power to endure fire without harm.” This makes sense following her second line where she says she cannot blow enough steam to get that person out of her head. Del Rey writes asking this person to stop harassing her into publishing stories. “You see I’m a real poet / My life is my poetry / My lovemaking is my legacy / My thoughts are not for sale / they’re about nothing / and beautiful and for free.” Lines 15 through 20 by Del Rey. This specific piece in her poem justifies how she has been a withdrawn celebrity, in the sense she rose to fame by creating her own music video for “Video Games.”

Never to Heaven

The greatest detail about this poem comes from Del Rey writing to herself in future tense. She begins the poem by describing how she wants her eyes to always stay level at the horizon. She says she does not want to go where angels tread, or overthink her life choices. Toward the end of the poem, she becomes melancholic again in lines 27 through 30. “It's times like this as the marine layers lifts / off the sea on the the dock with the candle lit / that i think to myself / there are things you still don’t know about me / like sometimes i’m afraid my sadness is too big / and that one day you might have to help me handle it.”

What Happened when I left you

“Perfect petals punctuate the fabrics yellow blue.” The use of alliteration in the first line really reeled me in. She talks about what happened when she left her lover, how her life is much calmer and her current daily life. My favorite lines in this poem are lines 8 through 10: “My life is sweet like lemonade now there’s no bitter fruit / Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind / no thought of u.” She used text dialect in a few poems, an interesting detail I noticed when I went back to re-read her poems.There must be a reason behind it - I am no perfect poet nor writer -- I would have liked less text dialect.

Sportscruiser

Del Rey gets personal and tells us what she did on her 33rd birthday. She took a flying lesson instead of calling her past lover. Her tone is sensitive, embarrassed and adoring. She describes her errors made on this lesson - which continued on after her birthday - and her thought process during each one. “During my fourth lesson in the sky, my instructor--younger than I but as tough as you--instructed me to do a simple maneuver. It’s not that I didn’t do it but I was slow to lean the SportsCruiser into a right hand upward turn.” She gets pretty worked up about how she could not do this maneuver because she did not have the confidence in herself. This gets her to self-examine her life, thoughts and her past lover. I enjoyed how she ended this poem because she realizes that she is not a captain nor a pilot. She is a writer, who makes metaphors about the sea and the sky.

Del Rey did a great job writing something authentic and gave us a closer look into what goes through her mind. You might not be a fan of Lana Del Rey’s songwriting, but I encourage you to read her poetry book. If you happen to want to venture into her world of self-reflection, love poetry and haikus, you might relate to something between the lines.

Edited by George Frey | gfrey@themaneater.com

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