Music as Muse: On Megan Falley’s ‘Bad Girls, Honey (Poems about Lana Del Rey)’
Falley’s poems address her muse as a human, while elevating the importance of her art and inspiration.
In a pivot from her previous works, After the Witch Hunt (2012) and Redhead and the Slaughter King (2014), Megan Falley returns with a chapbook dedicated to the writer’s muse, Bad Girls, Honey (winner of the 2015 Tired Hearts Competition). For her, this time, that muse is singer-songwriter, pop starlet, and heiress Lana Del Rey.
The collection opens with a tongue-in-cheek prose poem that plays on the idolized relationship between destructive habits (bad romances, depression, alcohol, etc.) and art (specifically poetry):
“That’s what poetry is, isn’t it? The drunk girl who slips into the pool fully clothed while the party buzzes on without her. Or the starlet with dozens of roses thrown at her feet and only dirty dishes to come home to. That’s what you like — poetry, right? Let me tell you about the music of a dial tone after he hung up a decade ago. The ballet of being left. About the subtle smack of a screen door. Let me tell you about the kaleidoscope of a bruise. Sadness never forgets my birthday.”
(“Lana Del Rey Sells Me on Sadness,” p. 7).
Falley’s trademark dark humor is on full display throughout the chapbook, which will surprise no one familiar with her prior work. Her wit is heavy, but heartfelt tittering on the verge of bitterness, but not quite diving in. Yet.
Her feminism isn’t hiding, either. In her poem, “Dear Lana,” she addresses the singer’s controversial statement calling feminism “not an interesting concept” in an interview that left her in hot water with many female fans:
“Of course we want to talk
about something else,
but how — with all this
tape on our mouths?
How, when they carve out
(“Dear Lana,” p. 15).
For Falley, her muse is not above reproach. However, while she takes her shots, she also pulls her punches. For the most part, the collection shines with love for Del Rey.
One thing I really love about these poems, besides their subject matter (Spoiler: I am a Lana Del Rey fan, as well), is Falley’s handling of the elephant in the room: Del Rey is a carefully crafted and maintained persona. For those unaware, Lana Del Rey is Elizabeth Grant’s stage name. In one of the later poems, “Elizabeth Grant Takes Me to an Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting,” Falley addresses the subject directly, but also with tenderness:
“Here she gets the same amount of applause
as Jack, who didn’t drink shoe polish last night,
as Mary who locked herself in her bedroom
because it was the only place a drink wasn’t,
as Ricky who’s been dry for the longest year.
Hi, my name is, La — Elizabeth,
She corrects, and I’m just like everyone here.”
(“Elizabeth Grant Takes Me to an Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting,” p. 35).
Falley’s muse isn’t perfect, except in her ability to perform the bad girl personality with razor sharp precision, which somehow makes her feel more human than the rest of us. And, of course, the real telling of these poems is that one can appreciate and enjoy them without knowing anything about who Lana Del Rey is. After all, the muse is universal and art immortal.
CETORIA TOMBERLIN is a Staff Book Reviewer for The Coil. She is a poet and fiction writer who lives in Northwest Georgia and received her bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing from Berry College. Her work has previously appeared in Fairy Tale Review, NonBinary Review, Southern Women’s Review, The Battered Suitcase, Spires, and online at LADYGUNN and HelloGiggles. She is also currently a book reviewer for Mixed Diversity Reads. Find her at her website.