As the end of April draws near, I want to commemorate one final poet for National Poetry Month. Lang Leav’s confessional affirmations of love, sex, and heartache are a culmination of things every human being has felt and experienced, and her words are whispered honey to those who are romantics at heart. Of course, with every high that love, infatuation, and desire bring, the contrary also exists in Leav’s writing, emphasizing sorrow and betrayal. Ultimately, she captures the very real and very human capacity to feel and experience.
Born into a Thai refugee camp in 1980, Leav’s family had been among the many fleeing Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge Regime. Her family migrated to a small refugee town of Cabramatta, Australia, and Leav would later attend the College of Fine Arts in Sydney. “Cosplaying Lolita” was the title of her undergrad thesis, for which she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship Reward. While her father worked as an acupuncturist, her mother’s labor as a seamstress served as a major influence to Leav’s interest in garments and fashion. Before she made a name for herself as a writer, she actually designed an entire clothing line–one prominent enough to gain the attention of key Australian boutiques–labeled Akina. Inspired by Japanese kawaii and Gothic fashion, her line of design has the potential to be both chic and melancholy, her illustrations often compared with the whimsy of Alice in Wonderland.
She went on to pen several collections of poetry and prose, but one thing that gives me hope as an aspiring writer is that Leav’s poetry originated on Tumblr! Speaking of my own experience, I can safely say that it’s the dream of many writers and poets to have their work recognized on a public platform and taken further by potential publishers and editors. With Leav’s poetry, though, I was in love with her work within the first few lines, and it is very hard to narrow down my favorites.
I consider “Self Love” to be my own personal banner and beacon of hope, words of encouragement to be my reminder in bleak times. Sometimes people need an extra budge during those low periods, and this poem follows along with the words I tell myself and others from time to time, that the storms of life are temporary and sunshine will break through the dark clouds with a little patience and fortitude. Regardless of our circumstances, it is vital that we learn to love ourselves in order to grow from past experiences. The final lines of “Self Love” impart beloved inspiration: “...and now I am beginning / to see and to believe / in who I am becoming / and all I’ve yet to be.”
“Metamorphosis” is a beautiful realization of romantic love, when an individual surpasses being just any faceless person to someone and becomes that person’s whole world. “Yet never have I been bolder or brighter than I am with you” indicates how whole, how alive, one feels when they are in love with someone who returns every iota of respect, desire, and love. Passion and zest for life is magnified tenfold in the presence of this kind of love, and most importantly the speaker is seen, actually seen, and loved for who they are. Every aspect of life is transformed by this love.
While many of Leav’s poems portray feelings of love and passion, many also depict loss and soul-wrenching heartache. For anyone who’s ever had their heart broken, or has had to say goodbye to someone they cared for, Leav’s words seem to capture these thoughts with uncanny ease and reality. “Afterthought” puts a finger on that lingering hurt, the one that stays with you for years, and while the thought can be painful, it’s also comforting that this is an experience shared among other people, enough to have been written in a poem, and not one that must be suffered alone.
“A Dedication” is a simple, sweet depiction of two halves forming a whole. Of inspiration inspiring the creator. Of art coming to life because the muse is present in its shining adoration and encouragement. There is an even balance for the lovers in this poem, and, quite simply, they complete one another.
Regardless of how you feel about romance or love, whether you believe in having “the one” or a slew of lovers and relationships, the bottom line is that Lang Leav writes very passionately of this one strong human emotion with which anyone can relate, and sometimes her words can coax into existence the things we feel but have no strength to decipher, much less bring into the light. Click here for more poetry by Lang Leav. Thanks for reading my blogs throughout National Poetry Month, and please feel free to share any of your favorite poems/poets!