Lana Del Rey has always loved poetry (or is she Poetry Incarnate? We’re not sure) — that’s clear enough by now. She’s featured it in her music since the beginning, way before she announced she’ll be writing (and selling!) a poetry collection of her own.
Quite a few of Lana’s poetry references were born during the Tropico-era: She used Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, John Mitchum‘s poem Why I Love America, and I Sing The Body Electric by Walt Whitman. Later, in Honeymoon, she dreamily reads T.S Eliot’s Burnt Norton.
And it continues, with a peppering of quotes from novels here and there: In Born To Die’s Off To The Races, she sings Vladamir Nabakov’s “Light of my life, fire of my loins.” She nods to A Streetcar Named Desire in Carmen, and The Decay of Lying by Oscar Wilde in Gods and Monsters.
It’s safe to say Lana loves literature and poetry (particularly interesting is her interest in work written by men). However, she does reference poet Sylvia Plath in hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but i have it by singing, “I’ve been tearing around in my f**king nightgown, 24/7 Sylvia Plath / writing in blood on the walls cause the ink in my pen don’t work in my notepad.”
Which means it’s not surprising she’s dabbling in poetry herself.
Lana told fans that she was planning on self-publishing a book of poetry and selling it at mom and pop shops all over California. She said she’d sell the book for a buck, “because my thoughts are priceless.”
She told the interviewer Annie Mac,
“It’s kind of random. Which is kind of another one of those things I just want out there just for me. I literally might just drop these little books off at some bookstores in Silverlake and beg them to sell them….It’s been really cool for me ‘cause I was having a little bit of writers’ block with the music last Fall and so I just sat down to write some words without music and I realized there was just a couple of things I wanted to say through some poems, which is funny. I feel like I’m in the 19th Century.”
Below, one of her poems, published to Instagram in March:
Lana’s poetry reads quite a lot like her lyrics, which explore themes of love and nature and darkness; it’s full of that signature Lana haziness (“summer / blue / forever”), alongside her classic bubblegum phrases like, “sweet baby,” and “I’ll pick you up later.”
She also writes shorter poems, which she’s shared — referencing her own poetry:
And in this poem, she uses both type and hand-writing in three different colors, which draws energy and attention to the mantra she’s stating: All you have to do is change everything.
And here, she plays with the use of color again. This isn’t the first time Lana has explored the transition and power of darkness and blue. In Lust for Life, she sings, “out of the black and into the blue.”
It’s interesting to watch Lana develop a poetic voice that exists outside of her normally poetic lyrics. And while it’s clearly very Lana Del Rey with all of its lusciousness, existentialism, an cinematic grandeur (even if it perhaps still feels a bit like lyrics at times, and not fully-fleshed out poems), the fact that an influential person is bringing poetry to the masses — in a way that feels authentic, rather than simply being sold as a mass-market paperback or an album add-on — adds magic to a genre that sometimes is forgotten.
Lana’s entire discography is a poem, in a sense. She easily exists outside the parameters of what’s considered easy or digestible or obvious. She writes 10-minute songs (hello, Venice Bitch), avoids the typical Page Six behavior, and drowns her fans in the thick, heavy honey of dirges you have to work to understand. There’s something about that — creating music, persona and story outside the lines of what’s normal — that reads like poetry. It’s more about mood and hue and emotion and less about giving everything up up-front. You have to get into the murk a little with her.
What do you think of Lana’s poetry?