I love poetry. I love it, I admire it, and I adore the challenges it presents because writing good poetry is not easy. Once, I’ve been told that “poetry is a novel condensed into a page” and yes, I’m aware that there are poems spanning more than a singular page, but it doesn’t mean that the meaning this saying is trying to convey isn’t something you shouldn’t take into account either. In fact, it has made me realise how complex and difficult it actually is to create good poetry.
The Universe of Us is the second collection of poetry written by Lang Leav that I have read. I won’t lie, I’m going to be brutally honest here so I apologize in advance to whoever who feels offended. So, turn away now while you still can. Thank you.
Now, for the actual review, I will start with a question: am I impressed with the poems here? No. With every new collection of poetry Leav publishes, I feel more and more unimpressed and more and more inclined to shred her books. Why? Oh, I don’t know. Why does it feel like I’ve read every single poem here like several hundreds of times before I even read any of them? Oh, wait, I do know! There’s nothing new about her poems here. Nothing! And, that’s just so incredibly upsetting for me because even though I didn’t give Memories a high rating, I still had expectations for Leav and those expectations—perhaps a little too high—certainly extended to The Universe of Us.
At this point, Lang Leav is like the modern poetry world’s version of Taylor Swift, only the latter is slightly better because the latter has written more on topics other than romantic/sexual love and heartbreak. Love, heartbreak, love. Okay, love is great. Heartbreak is painful. Both are universal. Love is something everybody wants and heartbreak is what most desire to avoid, but does everybody want to read about the same hyperboles and metaphors and all that jazz that’s already been used in like several thousands of other poems about love and heartbreak again? No. Honestly, how many times has stars and the sky and the moon and the sun and whatever those overused words, have been used already? Sure, some lines are timeless and they can touch your heart no matter how overused they are, but the thing is, to have similar variations written for about fifty poems in books authored by the same one person? To read lines that sound less like poetry or prose but more like something plucked out of some typical, clichéd novel because somehow tried-and-done means a greater audience?
“Do you think there is the possibility of you and I? In this lifetime, is that too much to hope for? There is something so delicate about this time, so fragile. And if nothing ever comes of it, at least I have known this feeling, this wonderful sense of optimism. It is something I can always keep close to me—to draw from in my darkest hour like a ray of unspent sunshine. No matter what happens next, I will always be glad to know there is someone like you in the world.” – ‘Someone Like You’, page 15.
Yeah, the above doesn’t read like prose. It reads more like something that could be the first paragraph of The Fault in Our Stars or some other similar book. Also, Leav, you need to expand your vocabulary. Seriously. It’s as though you’ve already written these poems in your previous collections as well, and the imagery they provide has been done over and over, too many times to even provide that deep meaning you’re intending for it to have. In fact, many of these prose and poems sound like you’re trying too hard, making them very insincere too.
Honestly, I don’t know about you, but when I read something, I want to read something that I can’t easily write. I want to read something that I’ve never thought about—that I’ve not seen somewhere else before. Everyone can write poetry, everyone can slap words on a page, but to make it good—to have it go above and beyond is the difficult thing. I actually liked some poems in Leav’s Memories, but there’s less than five here that holds some flickers of my interest and I’m afraid that that doesn’t raise The Universe Of Us higher on my likeability scale.