Author: Lang Leav
Genre: Contemporary Poetry and Prose Poems
Length: 224 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Release Date: January 29, 2019
Friends, I am pleased to announce that poetry is making a comeback! In recent years there has been a distinct upsurge in the interest of poetry by both readers and publishers. Lang Leav, international bestselling novelist and poet, is one of the voices of this movement.
Previously, it was an accepted fact that poetry simply didn’t sell. In modern times, people prefer novels and other works of prose. I have heard it lamented by my friends and other literary critics that poetry has fallen by the wayside. They bemoan the fact that “no one reads poetry anymore.”
Leav’s groundbreaking success, as well as the success of other contemporary poets such as Elizabeth Avecedo, Amanda Lovelace, and Rupi Kaur, have proven that this simply is not the case.
The face of poetry has changed. Poetry is no longer the sole playground of men dominated by misogynists like T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. Instead, poetry is now young, vibrant, and undeniably female.
Even more than that, I am overjoyed to see that poetry has once more become an act of rebellion. Female poets such as Leav are using their words to loudly proclaim that the lives and experiences of women and girls matter.
According to her website, Leav “was born in a Thai refugee camp when her family were fleeing the Khmer Rouge Regime. She spent her formative years in Sydney, Australia, in the predominantly migrant town of Cabramatta.”
Literary critics continue to look down their noses at poets such as Leav, despite her numerous awards and literary achievements (Leav has been featured in both The Guardian and The New York Times). Ironically, novels were once also disparaged as being only fit for the “fairer” and “simpler” sex.
A common criticism of Leav and her fellow contemporary poets is that their poems are “not poems at all.” Leav directly confronts such criticism in In her latest collection, Love Looks Pretty on You, which is due to be released January 29th. She grapples directly with her many critics and offers words of encouragement to other writers, especially young female writers.
Leav’s words are revolutionary in a world that would prefer women and girls to be objects of ornamentation instead of fully self actualized human beings. Furthermore, she proves in her collection that she is capable at both traditional forms of poetry as well as contemporary prose poems. She even includes a piece of her juvenalia (a poem written when she was twelve) in order to illustrate her development as both a writer and poet.
This was my first encounter with Leav. I was very pleased to discover her and I’m surprised that I have not encountered her work sooner, especially when one considers her massive following over 2 million fans on social media.
This collection was beautifully written and explored important themes that need to be discussed, such as healing from an abusive relationship and finding one’s voice in world full of brokenness.
I purposely seek out female poets of color because I long to see myself represented in one of my favorite art forms. As a clergywoman, I am most interested in the interpretation of scripture from the margins. I am drawn to womanist interpretations of the Biblical text and liberation theology. As an artist, I am drawn to Leav for the same reasons. I find her words and perspective both liberating and refreshing.
Poetry is not dead. It has simply transformed. I am grateful that Leav has helped to inspire people all over the world to once more lend an ear to the music of poetry.
This was my first experience with Leav’s work and I can’t wait to read her earlier poems, as well as her novel Sad Girls.
I highly recommend Love Looks Pretty on You for anyone who is a lover of words, especially if you are a female writer who loves poetry.
Note: I received a free digital advanced reader copy of this book through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.