Today’s review is for Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass by Lana Del Rey (2020), published by Simon & Schuster. I received a gifted copy from the publisher and will be giving a honest review. My copy was a hardback, 128 pages, and in new condition. It is a collection of poetry and photography by musician Lana Del Rey originally published in September 2020.
Lana Del Rey is a popular musician famous world-wide for Americana, indie, and melancholy tunes. She is a fashion icon, reminding me of how beautiful vintage clothes can be on some people (clue: not me!). Her first book, Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass (hereafter Violet), is a collection of poetry and photography accompanied by an audiobook version which showcases spoken word by LDR and Jack Antonoff.
Modern poetry is difficult for me to review. Poetry is, in my opinion, a personal act of expression. While all books and art fall into this category, poetry seems exceptionally vulnerable. It’s like writing in your diary and then having someone pick it apart for a star rating. The difference, I suppose, is when you start to charge people to read your diary thoughts. Then it becomes a commodity open for artistic criticism. Still, I take this vulnerability into consideration when I review something like this.
The book is rather short for the price (anywhere from $15 on Amazon to $30 in a bookstore), but I think the major appeal here is the author. The cover is by Erika Lee Sears; it is a painting of an orange tree, and I quite like the design with the gold text shining through. I removed the dust jacket from my copy, as I like the hardback on its own quite well enough. The structure of the book is typeface poems, some long and some short, alongside original photography by LDR. Violet includes photography that reminds me of vintage photos used on old school Myspace vintage designs — I loved the look of “old timely” photos, grainy despite the use of high-tech cameras. The scenes are typical of the LDR character: Americana, vintage, small town visuals.
Now, LDR says that she is often inspired by Walt Whitman and Allen Ginsberg when writing; as a popular songwriter, those who are aware of her music can see that she has a thematic approach. I like that she is branching out to explore some other forms of expression. Songwriting and poetry are very similar, but sometimes there are significant differences. Poetry seems to almost be more open ended. She is expected to put out the highest quality music to appeal to millions of fans. THAT is difficult! Just having the ability to write for yourself is probably a relief.
As for the poems, some are appealing to me and some don’t. That’s normal! That’s just like any discography: you’ll like some songs, won’t like some as much. All in all, I liked it for the reasons I listed, but I will also say that I am glad to see that funds from the sales will be donated.
Links below. Not affiliated with any, just want to have resources if you are interested.
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/violet-bent-backwards-over-the-grass-lana-del-rey/1137313911
Lana Del Rey’s Website: https://lanadelrey.com/
Simon and Schuster: https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Violet-Bent-Backwards-Over-the-Grass/Lana-Del-Rey/9781982167288