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POETRY BOOKS WRITTEN by MUSICIANS

Music and poetry have always been intimately linked through their lyrical qualities. Music works in sound and silence, poetry works in words. To celebrate World Poetry Day, we present to you a selection of books of poetry written by female musicians.


Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

In 2016, Bob Dylan's poetry was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Swedish academy noted that the award recognised the poetic value of his lyrics. However, I have asked myself several times: If you take away the music from the song, does that leave poetry?


Whatever the musical genre, I consider that in many cases song lyrics and poetry are of the same family and should be measured by the same parameters.


Today, to celebrate World Poetry Day, we will present you our selection of the best books of poetry written by female musicians:



PATTI SMITH - AUGURIES OF INNOCENCE (2005)

AUGURIES OF INNOCENCE by PATTI SMITH

Previously in another article, I mentioned Patti Smith when choosing my favourite books written by women, but if we are talking about poems, I can't start with someone other than her.


Patti Smith was a poet before she was a musician. Inspired by French poets such as Arthur Rimbaud, she began writing poetry at a young age. It was only when she fused those verses with rock that she became an essential figure in the history of the 21st century. Described by her critics alternately as the "godmother of punk" and "rock and roll's poet laureate,", It is well known that Smith's prestigious career as a poet has to this day been the best part of the lives of many poetry lovers who are not even close to her music.


Among her books, we chose "Auguries of Innocence" to celebrate this day. This collection of 28 poems was published in 2005 and marks a major accomplishment from a poet and performer who has inscribed her vision of our world in powerful anthems, ballads, and lyrics. In this intimate and searing collection of poems, Smith joins in that great tradition of, wordsmiths, and artists who respond to the world around them in a fresh and original language. Her influences include William Blake, and Picasso, among others.


In 2010, she won the prestigious American National Book Award for her bestselling memoir Just Kids, which chronicles her deep friendship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and the evolution of their work. Her books of nonfiction and poetry also include Witt (1973), Babel (1978), Woolgathering (1992), The Coral Sea (2012), Collected Lyrics, 1970–2015 (2015), M Train (2015), Devotion (2017), and Year of the Monkey (2019), and several more.



"Songs can be incredibly prophetic, like subconscious warnings or messages to myself, but I often don't know what I'm trying to say till years later."

Florence Welch



FLORENCE WELCH - USELESS MAGIC: LYRICS AND POETRY (2018)

USELESS MAGIC: LYRICS AND POETRY by FLORENCE WELCH

British singer Florence Welch released her first book of poems in 2018, featuring lyrics and artwork taken from her own notebooks and sketches.

If you have paid attention to the lyrics of her songs you will notice that in them Florence expresses much of her emotions, love, saints, and demons. Her lyrics are true poems to which she then adds melodies and expresses in the form of music which also carries meaning in itself, just like words. "Songs can be incredibly prophetic, like subconscious warnings or messages to myself, but I often don't know what I'm trying to say till years later. Or a prediction comes true, and I couldn't do anything to stop it, so it seems like a kind of useless magic" Florence reflects in her book on the power of music in her life. The book serves as a kind of diary in which pieces of paper, drawings, photographs, and feelings are collected on different surfaces, and which helps us to know a little more about Florence's mind.


Through the content shared on her social networks, the singer and poet have hinted that figures such as Frida Khalo and Chilean poet Pablo Neruda are among her inspirations.


The book is a collection of all the lyrics Welch has written for her band from Lungs, released in 2009, to High As Hope. But it also includes poems Welch has written over the last decade.



LANA DEL REY - VIOLET BENT BACKWARDS OVER GRASS (2020)

VIOLET BENT BACKWARDS OVER GRASS by LANA DEL REY

Those of us who have followed Lana Del Rey from the beginning know that her music is poetry dedicated to her immense love for the United States. Her lyrics stand out for their romanticised characters and, in fact, her references to writers such as Sylvia Plath or Bukowski are recurrent, which is not surprising because the New York singer, as well as composing, also writes poetry.

But finally, in 2020 Lana's first poetry book arrived. With more than thirty poems and a beautiful hardcover edition showcasing Lana's typewritten manuscript pages alongside her original photography, the book brings the result is an extraordinary poetic landscape that reflects the unguarded spirit of its creator.

In the pages of this book, Lana leaves her creativity completely free to tell, sometimes through poems, her experiences halfway between fiction and reality. Thanks to her, we are transported to the exact moment when things happened, to that moment when the clock struck a very specific time and conversations arose around her. The result is a marvellous poetic landscape. However, she has confessed that the writing of these poems was accidental during a period when she took a break from writing.


Violet Bent Backwards over the Grass was also released as Del Rey's first spoken word album that was released two months before the book. Only 14 of the 30 poems that appear in the book to record, and also released exclusively in physical formats, on CD and vinyl records. The album's only single, "LA Who Am I to Love You", was released on the same day as the album, a nostalgic song narrated in the first person that follows the American singer through an emotional memory of her life with reference to the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York.




The book was unquestionably rated as one of the most important collections of song lyrics of the 20th century.


HALSEY - I WOULD LEAVE ME IF I COULD. A COLLECTION OF POETRY (2020)


I WOULD LEAVE ME IF I COULD by HALSEY

In the midst of the pandemic, Halsey, one of the most empowering women artists of her generation, released her first book of poetry entitled "I Would Leave Me If I Could". Through her poems, Halsey wants to express things she does not dare to express through her mouth, things she has not even dared to tell her parents. The book shows her most intimate and honest side, In it, she deals with issues such as sexual aggression, sexual identity, gender dysphoria, longing, and the nuances of bipolar disorder. Many of the poems deal with love relationships, and she admits that she felt guilty when she finished the book because she realised that there was more about men than women. However, she acknowledges that 'Hereditary' and 'American Woman' are the poems that best show who she is because they are sarcastic - and I think they best represent how she really speaks.


At the official released of the book, Halsey made it clear that the best way for her to communicate with her fans is not always through great performances, music videos, or interviews, but through her words, and we know this well, as it is impossible to forget the empowering speech she gave at the Women's Day march in 2018, where she made everyone emotional by reading a poem against sexual abuse and for the freedom of all women.




JONI MITCHELL - THE COMPLETE POEMS AND LYRICS (1997)

THE COMPLETE POEMS AND LYRICS by JONI MITCHELL

In the generation of singer-songwriters who rose to fame in the '60s, none has had more impact - or created a more evocative, bittersweet, literate, and reflective body of work than Joni Mitchell. "The Complete Poems And Lyric"’ was a celebration of Joni Mitchell’s first thirty years in the music industry, as well as her induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. The importance of her entire oeuvre is unequivocal when viewed as a lifetime of accomplished writing. This book gives the first opportunity to reconsider Mitchell's written work and her place among the great poets and lyricists of the time

The book was unquestionably rated as one of the most important collections of song lyrics of the 20th century.




. Here we recommend some other books of poems written by women musicians:



It comes as no surprise that some of our favourite songwriters and musical artist are also skilled in poetry and lyrical crafts(wo)manship. And especially today, we encourage you to enjoy the silence around you and be immersed by their words on paper only, allowing them to be more direct and powerful than they might appear at times when accompanied by the sound of music. Music is her passion wishes you an inspired world poetry day!



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