TITLE: Sea of Strangers
AUTHOR: Lang Leav
ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY: Generic love poems without sprinkled artwork.
I don’t often give authors a second chance. I know, it’s awful, but if it’s the first time reading a book and I don’t like I rarely make an effort to read one of their books again. Sea of Strangers is an exception and has only cemented my dislike of Leav’s poetry. Yup, I did not like this collection at all.
I read Love and Misadventure (REVIEW HERE) knowing it was her first collection of poetry, so I forgave her because it was the first one. However, Sea of Strangers has no excuse. She’s had years to fine tune her craft and it is still not working for me. The poetry and prose is so incredibly pretentious and shallow that it offers no meaning other than the stereotypical themes we know about love. She’s in love. She’s had a bad break up. She’s out of love. She finds love again. If it all sounds too familiar that’s because it is. She’s too literal and offers very few insights, and that’s my frustration with this poet.
If you don’t believe me, here are some examples of why I really disliked this collection.
She also fails to make metaphors stick by turning them too literal. She writes:
“Are you somewhere looking at the sea, my love?
You loved to watch the tide come in.
Loved the fullness of it.
Said that’s how your heart was.”
She almost had it! If only she would leave out that last line.
She could have left out that last line and let us figure it out ourselves. I know most people find poetry annoying because of all the interpretations and hidden meanings, but that’s precisely what I like about poetry. Being able to look at it as many times as you want and still find something new about it each time. Leav’s poetry doesn’t have that because ALL of it is too literal.
At another moment she says:
“There is one thing you should know about writing. It will inevitably lead you to dark places as you cannot write authentically about something unless you have lived it.”
Why must you go to a dark place? You don’t have to. She might believe that talking about a dark place in your life is enough to make something authentic but it’s not. It’s not enough to write pretty dark things, rhyme, and have odd break. She’s following this tortured artist stereotype and that does more harm than good, at least in my opinion.
In “A Wild Goose Chase” she writes:
“All his thoughts,
the ideas they court,
and if I am inside them.”
This is just one of many poems and prose where she talks about romantic relationships.
There’s maybe one or two that talks about something else, but other than those two everything else is about romantic relationships, being in one, beings out of one, being stronger because of it, being stronger without it. What about friendships and family?
I’m not saying don’t write about romantic love, but if you’re going to write about romantic love at least do it in a way that is unique instead of referring to cliches like red balloons.
Perhaps this book is for people who are in love and want to read about love, but since I am a person whose not in love nor wishes to read about generic love, this book is just a letdown. I have a feeling that even if I were in love and wanted to read about love, this wouldn’t be my top choice. I’m pretty sure I’d run away.