The following is a transcript of an interview that Yvonne Romera of Fully Booked had with Lang Leav, for all of our e-zine readers.
We both are on Tumblr a lot…
Yeah, yeah we are! [laughs]
…And we know the community there. So how did you feel when they first responded so positively to your poems?
Well it was completely unexpected, cause I just randomly uploaded some poems one day. I wasn’t at all careful. You know the notes just kept coming! I got like 40 notes and I was really excited, I was like 40 notes oh whatever, I was grateful that they like the poem. Yeah and then the notes just started growing and growing as more people discovered it and it went viral. And then people started messaging me in my askbox, it was crazy!
I bet you started to get messages everyday in your askbox.
Yeah I do, and I can’t reply to all of them as because they get too many. But I try to reply to them a few days [later] when I can.
And then your tags!
Yeah! I feel quite guilty though. I feel like, “oh gosh, these people like me” and then [I’ll try] to reply to everyone and do it… I couldn’t keep up with it.
What have been the best fan stories they’ve shared with you? Like how did your work touch them?
Oh yeah yeah, I get so many I can’t even, like you know… A lot of people saying that it got through a tough time, a heartbreak, it helped them understand their relationship, or it kind of helped them understand what went wrong. Things like that helped them to feel not alone. And my favorite thing is when people say that it inspired them to write. That’s a really beautiful thing right there, with people creating and I really believe in… you know, I think that everyone should just embrace and encourage creativity. I think that every creation is valid and that everyone should be embracing it and just encourage it. I think that’s something I strongly believe in.
Also, I think that the merit of a good piece of art; when it creates more art.
Yeah! Absolutely! I love things when people are drawing pictures, writing their own poems. It’s really delightful, it’s wonderful.
In a bookstore, usually the top bestsellers are fiction novels. I think this is the very first time we’ve actually had a poetry book top our bestsellers list! People are just demanding for it.
So what can you say about the renewed interest and appeal to contemporary poetry?
I think poetry is something you learn in school and I think there’s a bit of disconnection in poetry maybe because you’re forced to study it in school. There is a lot of poetry that is esoteric so it’s really difficult to understand. It’s not as relatable… So I got my favorite poets, Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson, and they wrote in a way that was [something] people can relate to without having to analyze it too much. At the same time they took very complex emotions and then simplified them. I think that’s a really beautiful art form. That’s something I tried to embrace and tried to do myself. So I think the reason why people are reconnecting to poetry through my work is because it’s relatable to them, it’s personal to them. People say “you’re telling my life story”. So that’s exactly what people have a difficult time with. Hopefully, it will get them to discover more poetry… and that poetry makes a comeback.
There really is something cathartic about your work! Of course not many people read novels, but they would actually get into poetry.
Yes! Lots of people said that “I don’t even read books, you know? Your poetry really speaks to me.” So I think anything that gets people reading or into poetry is a great thing.
Do you have a best or weirdest fan story? Something memorable someone has done for you?
There are so many…but there was this one girl I remember, who was really lovely. Her name is Angel, actually. And she wrote to me saying that she drove like for hours looking for my book. She checked her Barnes & Noble and it closed down and everything.
Where was she from?
She’s from America. When she finally got to the Barnes & Noble, they didn’t have the book. And she was so disappointed. She wrote to me and everything, and like I felt terrible about it. Like, “Look, look. I’ll send you a book,” you know? Which is not something I can do obviously. Her story was really touching, so I ended up sending a book to her. And it was very funny because just when I did that, the Barnes & Noble buyer got in touch with me, that was really strange. It was sort of a strange chain of events. Her name was Angel and I thought, “You could almost be like an angel to me.” So yeah, that was a really cool story to me. In terms of weirdness, I don’t I have any weird stories at all. I mean you get the odd comment on Facebook, yeah. But nothing strange. I think I’ve been very lucky.
That’s really good for you. I think I saw on your blog that some people actually tattooed lines from your book.
Yeah, yeah! They tattooed it, which is really flattering. You know it’s quite a beautiful thing. That the words touched them that much, that they want it to be a part of them.
Is there a poem from Love & Misadventure that kind of has an interesting or maybe like a funny story behind it?
Um, “Sea of Strangers” I think.
“Sea of Strangers”?
Yes, “Sea of Strangers”. When I wrote that, it was really a strange event because I was alone at the time and feeling a little bit down, you know when you do. When you think about your life, where you’re going. The poem came to my head and normally they come when I’m about to fall asleep. And I wrote it down, which was kind of weird because it’s like the whole poem appeared in my head while I was writing it. Then I stopped I couldn’t stop crying, because it’s about finding your soulmate and how you’re meant for each other. It felt predetermined. And then a couple of months later, that was when I met my partner Michael.
Yeah! It felt like maybe I wrote the poem for him. And when I was crying, I thought of the feeling of disbelief and that I was going to let it all go and stop worrying, everything will be fine… And yeah. That’s why that poem is special to me.
Ok now that story is giving me hope.
Alright! So you’re writing another book?
How will it differ from Love & Misadventure?
It will be kind of similar, you know, layout and everything. I don’t want to give too much away, it’ll be a little bit more… serious? Does that make sense? A little bit more serious. I think my writing develops a little bit. Where in Love & Misadventure, [you’ve] got a lot of cute whimsical poems. This one will have some too but it’ll be a little bit more… grown-up?
Of course, as one’s art does (grow up).
Yeah yeah, but you know, not much. It’s going to be pretty similar. But I hope everyone will love it, I’m really excited about it! I’ve already designed the cover, I’m working on the artwork for it.
Do you already have a name for it?
I’m not gonna say the name for it yet.
Ok I’ll just keep refreshing your blog! [laughs]
Yeah, yeah. [laughs] But I’m really happy with the name for it. I’m really excited about it.
Yes I think your readers will all be excited too because if you release it by next year, they too would emotionally grow with your book.
Yeah, yeah, absolutely! Or you know, if not, they can still enjoy it. I think it’ll just pair up with Love & Misadventure really well. It’ll be like a series though.
Oh! May I know your three favorite books?
My top three? Oh… I really love Norwegian Wood. It’s a good book. The Great Gatsby. That’s a really beautiful book. I read that about a couple of years ago. Just recently, I reread it again. There are a couple of beautiful lines in there. The History of Love. That one I read about a few months ago and it’s a real page-turner, and I thought that it was a beautiful story. But there are many books that I love, yeah.
How about the current book you’re reading?
At the moment? I’m in the middle of The Book Thief. I’m almost at the end actually.
We just had a Book Thief discussion here last weekend!
Yeah, I saw that! And I was like, you know I gotta finish it. So I got it on my Kindle, I just got a Kindle recently. I think I’m about 80% through. So when I get back home, I’m going to jump into my Kindle.
You are going to have a lot of people to talk to about The Book Thief here!
It’s actually quite gorgeous! There’s a really beautiful line in there and I love the fact that, I hope this isn’t a spoiler, that it’s narrated by Death. And I think that’s really gorgeous.
It’s brilliant, actually. So what do you hope readers will take away from Love & Misadventure?
Like I said, I hope they start reading more poetry. I hope they start writing more poetry. And I hope it will make them feel less alone. Cause I felt like that when I started sharing my work, that I was the only person in the world who felt like these crazy things.
Especially when you’re young, at that teenage age.
Yeah yeah, absolutely. And I think that it [can] help maybe navigate their feelings or just put into words what they are feeling or thinking at that time.
Because usually people relate to novels through the characters, and this [poetry] speaks for themselves.
Directly, yes! And I think they can take poems that apply to their own lives.