It took me about forty-five minutes to read through Lang Leav’s Love & Misadventure. Afterwards I went for walk and picked up some food. Then, I sat down and read it again, and again, and again. I’ve read it in bed, in a coffee shop, on the train, with a cup of tea and a pint of ice cream. I even made a playlist to read it to; it is heavy with James Young, Nylo, BANKS, Slow Skies, and Meg Myers. I’ve never done this before, so why start with a book of poetry? Maybe, I wanted the words to course through me, make my blood boil, and tickle my skin. Maybe, I wanted to leave the world behind and immerse myself fully and get lost in its world. Or maybe, I just wanted to be sucker punched in the heart.
Love & Misadventure is a roller coaster of emotions. It is a time capsule of a doomed romance in 155 condensed pages. It takes snap shots of the highest of emotional peaks and kicks you off the ledge to watch you fall into your darkest depths. While reading it I felt heartbreak, rejection, and jealousy – except I would flip the page and I would be elated, a smile couldn’t help but spread onto my face. Its words hand you a crowbar for your own heart and compels you to crack it open like a treasure chest.
I understand a book of poetry isn’t for everyone. Yet this story couldn’t be captured any other way. The use of negative space on the page forces you to slow down. There isn’t a set of characters to lose track of or any complicated subplots to track throughout the narrative. There isn’t a pressure to power through it. The only way to truly understand it is to sit down with it and observe its nuance. You must sit still with your own reservoir of feelings and judgement and listen to its subtleties. For the full effect of feeling you must read this book out loud. Some parts will make your heart squirm but in that moment of discomfort is when you discover something about yourself.
Love & Misadventure isn’t corny or cheesy. It does not portray love as happily ever after. Instead it shows that it takes work and it is a treacherous terrain and at times it will suck. It is able to present the messiness of love and drag you into the mud. In fact I’d even argue this isn’t a book about love because its never just love. Its feeling vulnerable, exposed and helpless. Its maddening, frustrating, and hopeless. Its also feeling invincible. Its feeling more alive than ever, a feeling of euphoria which makes you wish you could freeze time. Its “What if,” regrets, and lessons learned. Its selfish and selfless at the same time. Its about never giving up and knowing when to let go. Love is all of these things.
When I first heard of Love & Misadventure and read some poems by Lang Leav I was fully prepared to cry when reading the book. You may not believe me but I have not cried over it. I might in the future but not today. The book may not have a happy ending but it doesn’t destroy the idea of love either. It shows us all of its sides. My favourite poem of the book right now is “Rogue Planets”:
As a kid, I would count backwards from ten and imagine at one, there would be an explosion – perhaps caused by a rogue planet crashing into Earth or some other major catastrophe. When nothing happened, I’d feel relieved and at the same time, a little disappointed.
I think of you at ten; the first time I saw you. Your smile at nine and how it lit up something inside me I had thought long dead. Your lips at eight pressed against mine and at seven, your warm breath in my ear and your hands everywhere. You tell me you love me at six and at five we have our first real fight. At four we have our second and three, our third. At two you tell me you can’t go on any longer and then at one, you ask me to stay.
And I am relieved, so relieved – and a little disappointed.
My friends like to describe me as a hopeless romantic. I like to think of myself as a hopeful one instead. I wouldn’t be me if I was hopeless – even if it means getting sucker punched in heart from time to time.
It’s Like I Have ESPN or Something – Nicole
“Its words hand you a crowbar for your own heart and compels you to crack it open like a treasure chest.”
There is infinite wisdom in that line – possibly a wisdom Irving learned through hearing this poet write, through feeling his own body read. The image of cracking one’s heart with a crowbar is raw, visceral, painful in the most fascinating way. I’ll think on that. Lang Leav probably wants us to think with everything we’ve got and then borrow more of the stuff of thinking.