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Reblog-worthy romance |

Young Star

Reblog-worthy romance

EXISTENTIAL BLABBER - Kara Ortiga - The Philippine Star

Tumblr’s favorite poet on soul mates, rejection and the friend zone.

It didn’t come from squealing 13-year-old girls clutching their diaries to get me to download a copy of Lang Leav’s book of poems entitled Love and Misadventure. It came from my gay friend Andrew, a market research analyst in his mid-20s going through his own share of heartache to convince me that the poet was worth the time.

“That’s why we call her ‘hashtag-BFF (best friend forever)-Lang Leav,’” he would say in his drawn-out, saccharine-infused tone. Because when she wrote her poems, he would proclaim, it felt like she knew exactly what you were going through. 

The reality was, the snaking line of girls waiting outside Fully Booked at 10 in the morning on a Saturday to get Lang Leav (who was in Manila for a few days) to sign their copies, really did seem like it was made up of pubescent teenagers. But the fervor in them seemed less like fan girls waiting to see their favorite One Direction. It was a line of girls who had maybe once lost themselves in the complexities of this emotion called love, and now wanted to look at the person who had helped them find their way again. It really did seem less about the value of her autograph, and more about the moment to express gratitude to the author, like one would perhaps do to a girl friend who had spent long hours on the phone with you to help analyze a bemused new attraction.

So when word of Lang Leav in Manila spread, it didn’t come as much of a surprise that she would have a cult following. My own friend panicked when she found her book was already sold out in some branches.

Her book would be withered and creased from the hands of girls passing it on to each other. The real-deal Chicken Soup for the Soul, only better — because chicken soup was only slightly warming, but this was completely healing. Her poems are preached like wisdom from a prophet, and treasured when shared.

Really, they were just stories from a girl. “I really like the idea of taking complex emotions, things that are so hard to articulate and just simplifying them and conveying them in a way that is relatable,” says the poet herself. “That’s why I get a lot of people tell me, ‘You’re telling my life story.’”

Young Star was able to sit down with the poet and ask her about her personal views on love and misadventures.

YOUNG STAR: Who taught you how to write poems?

LANG LEAV: I taught myself, actually. I’ve written them since I was a kid. I think your favorite authors are always your best teachers when you’re writing. So I never studied formally but I always loved writing. In high school I used to pass around notebooks of my poems.

How old were you when you started writing?

Probably around my teenage years when I started writing a lot and I used to pass it around the schoolyard and my friends would copy it down. It was something that my friends were going through at that time when they were starting to get interested in the opposite sex.

From where do you draw the emotions of your poems?

I write best from experience, but I also write from empathy and imagination. I write for my friends; if they’re having a hard time, I’ll write them a poem. I opened up a Tumblr account recently for people to send in their poem requests, and then I’ll write for them. In a way it’s like this collaboration with everyone. I found a lot of people sending poem requests for the whole friend-zone thing.

Common problem here.

Yeah (laughs), and that’s why I wrote “Just Friends.”

Do you believe in the idea of soul mates? It’s one of our favorite poems from your book.

Yeah, I really do. When I met my partner Michael it was really strange because we met online but it felt like we did know each other. Looking back I just sort of hopped on a plane [to see him] and now we’re together. It was a risk but it just felt so right to me and we haven’t looked back since.

We actually wanted to know who Michael was [whom the book is dedicated to].

Michael is my partner we’ve been together for about four years now. We met when he was in advertising and he’s a very talented writer. He bought one of my artworks [online] but for some reason we started talking and he sent over this graphic novel he was working on and I was really spellbound. I thought, “Wow, this is gorgeous.” And I sent him some of my writing cause I really respected him. He wrote back and said, “I think there’s something really special in your writing.” And so we started talking as friends. We talked online for maybe a year before we actually met in person.

What do you think is the one quality that a good relationship should have?

I really like the “it’s us against the world” kind of mentality.

Have you ever been rejected?

Oh, yeah, many times! I haven’t had lots of relationships but I’ve been there before and that’s why I get to write about it.

How do you deal with that?

You can’t, really … I think time is the only thing that can actually deal with it for you. I mean, there’s all this advice but you know at the end of the day if you’re feeling something, you need to feel it and it’ll teach you something. The only thing you can do is give it time.


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