Internet poetry sensation Lang Leav has sold 300,000 copies of her three poetry books and has a startling 135k followers on Instagram. Leav is part of a new wave of young poets who reach their audience through social media platforms such as Tumblr, Instagram and Facebook rather than traditional marketing channels. She even has a New Zealand connection: Leav was born in Thailand, but lives here. So why have we never caught her on the usual poetry reading circuits? I decided to check out her third book, Memories, and I’m recommending it. A lot of Instagram poetry is cutesy or trite, but Leav transcends this, managing to be witty, insightful, and ok, a little cute. This may be the poetry equivalent of pop music, but who doesn’t like to dabble on the light side occasionally?
How to be Dead in a Year of Snakes by Chris Tse is my other poetry recommendation. Like the man himself this is an immensely assured and elegant first collection, deservedly long-listed in the Ockham NZ Book Awards.
Other reading: the two novels I read this year that left the greatest impression on me were Hanya Yanagihara’s New York epic A Little Life and Anna Smaill’s beguiling and strikingly unusual dystopian debut The Chimes.