It was as if the world has stopped. At least for a little while, it didn’t matter if there were papers to finish or topics to study. After all, meeting in person one of the many writers you admire is worth the time of day. The four hours of travel and two hours of waiting were also excusable if you were to talk to and have a photo with a person you just encounter in love poems.
Two days ago, my friends and I have finally met Lang Leav. Her enthralling compilation of love poems, Love and Misadventure, has instantly received wide, positive reception despite being launched just last year. Her striking and thoughtfully conceived poems exude raw and honest feelings that capture the fleeting nature of love. As Goodreads puts it, “her work expresses the intricacies of love and loss.”
Leav has written passionate poems primarily dedicated to her husband. However, in the love-and-misadventure dichotomy of her compilation, I’ve noticed that she has crafted more poems about the melancholic side of love in a section of the book entitled “The Circus of Sorrows.” I like to think that it is because people are more emotionally vulnerable when they are sad, and thus, would appreciate some reaffirming poems every now and then.
I remember having championed a love poem making contest in highschool only to be disheartened afterwards. Some people had qualms if I actually wrote it. Maybe they were suspicious how a freshman in highschool could write something about love. One even doubted on the grounds that a word in my title was often used by our school directress. Back then, I wondered if she has a monopoly over English words, the same way I wondered if we have no right to feel what others feel.
In college, poetry was taught in a more formal literary approach. And if my college literature professors would stumble upon Leav’s poems, they would most probably not call it poetry at all. In the academe, they have this certain standard when it comes to poetry like bearing metaphors and other figures of speech, and not just rhymes like the ones in Hallmark greeting cards. Of course there’s this complicated topic of canon, that I won’t even try to delve into at this point.
With or without the hype, Lang Leav is a love poet in her own right, the same way we all have the right to feel what others feel. An Instagrammer even refer to her collection as “the book that made me fall in love with poetry.” People love her writing because she shows the power of simplicity—how well-crafted simple words would explode like bombs and verbalize the feelings left unsaid. And I believe that’s the whole point of writing: communicating with people by making them find themselves in your words. That’s why when I had a minute with her, I made sure I thanked her for being an inspiration to aspiring writers (but mentioning her resemblance to Japanese painter Audrey Kawasaki couldn’t be helped either ^_^).
Lang Leav was born in a refugee camp in Thailand before moving to Australia where she has been based ever since (from an interview). From Febuary 7-9, Fullybooked has brought in Manila the celebrated artist and contemporary poet Lang Leav (who is also very down-to-earth and humble), as part of promoting her best-selling title, Love and Misadventure. The poetry reading and book signing event was held at Ateneo de Manila University, Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street, and Fully Booked Alabang Town Center, respectively.