• Elina Arbo

SEA OF STRANGERS: BOOK REVIEW

You have to let your head in the clouds every once in a while.


Sea of Strangers by Lang Leav is a collection of prose poetry that highlights themes and lessons regarding various aspects of life and love. The book provides a romanticist perspective of what it means to truly live and exist as a human. The poems are sporadic and do not ascribe to a typical, linear line of storytelling. Leav describes every day appreciations, the nuance of life, and the power of poetry. However, most of her work circles back to two main themes: heartbreak and love.


Each page in Sea of Strangers is like a mini-present, oftentimes conveying an important theme, idea, or lesson. Leav is very much about bringing readers to feel what is written. Her audience is not limited to reading, rather they are encouraged to interact with the fourth wall. There is also fulfillment in reading a nonlinear narrative, no matter the genre. It introduces information in a fresh and riveting way, always keeping readers interested, and that's exactly the technique she employs.


Leav’s self-reflection is extremely strong throughout the entirety of the book. In her eyes, poems are opportunities to reflect. For instance, in the poem “To Myself, Ten Years Ago”, she writes from the future, warning her past self that they will be lost, and that she will wander; that darkness is not something to be afraid of, but something to find comfort in. Directly following that poem is "over ”which imitates the process of accepting a heartbreak, even as it occurs many years later. In some instances, Leav directly describes her observations. In other instances, these observations are more subtle, yet still seem conscious of what is being said.


I especially enjoy the relationship the poet creates with poetry and prose as a whole. She acknowledges her interdisciplinary practices and personifies them. In “Poetry and Prose”, she compares the different forms of writing to the long-lasting and spontaneous aspects of love. Once again, love and heartbreak are narrated in multiple ways.


However, while I understand the merit of sticking to a certain theme, there is not too much uniqueness in Leav’s approach to writing. Her writing about love and heartbreak is not necessarily introduced to readers in a new or innovative way. In many instances throughout the book, I felt that the comparisons and poems were not exciting or invigorating. While a lot of this has to do with the redundancy of theme, the way Leav writes is pretty consistent and often times, predictable.


Similar in structure to Rupi Kaur, Leav takes a simple approach to the structure of her poems. However, this is not necessarily bad. There is bliss in simplicity and merit in such writing. Poets like Leav give us an opportunity to take a break from reality. There is warmth, youth, and comfort in the way she writes. Fulfillment is always achieved when reading poetry, and Leav is no different in making sure of that.


While this book is not something that aligns with my stylistic and thematic interests, its definitely worth the experience of reading. There is definitely a hidden beauty and appreciation in Lang Leav’s voice. The youthful approach to her writing is something I admire and found important. As a nostalgic individual, there’s nothing more I look forward to than reminiscing. Her reflective capabilities are truly a gift.


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