We are never alone, and Swimming Lessons reassures that fact


Curt Montgomery (illustrator)

The cover of Lili Reinhart’s debut poetry collection titled Swimming Lessons.

Despite my little experience in the worlds of love and prose, I enjoy pretending that I’ve traversed these realms enough times to be acquainted with them.

I consume period pieces in an attempt to understand the complexities of adoration, and I spin stories packed with eloquence to make me appear wiser than I am. I fall so deeply, sublimely in love with every person who shows me the slightest affection, and then I become afraid to admit it in fear of coming on too strong. So I write about it in muddled rhyme that contains little to be praised for. 

Until quite recently, I could not find a piece of literature that made me feel contented in these emotions. It almost seemed as if the whole world was gaslighting me, making me feel individualized, erratic, and looked down upon. Then, like it was kismet, I went from the halls of my mind to those of the Target poetry aisle, and the universe clicked into place.

My walls were suddenly coated in the words of Drake and Sin, my empty bottles becoming so very filled with stories. Poetry became the ultimate answer, even if the words did not necessarily fit my situation. There lay an overemphasized simplicity between the lines where the stars are slightly brighter and where the flowers bloom across all season. 

This is how I know I love you so much. Whenever I see something beautiful, I want you to see it, too.”

— Lili Reinhart

A few weeks ago, I found myself once again scoping out the book section at my local Target, hunting for a fresh addition to my growing collection of prose. From the shelf, a meddling of millennial pink, crisp white, and popping magenta grasped my attention towards Swimming Lessons, an introductory anthology by actor and mental health advocate Lili Reinhart. 

Though I had utterly lost track of Reinhart’s career once high school started, a part of me felt suddenly at home reading her name on the cover of a book. Flipping the ruby-stained pages open ajar, I read the faintly etched dedication and knew that this was my next conquest. 

A mere seven pages into my exploration, I found a poem that perfectly summed up my perception of love—a poem that combined my aforementioned appreciation for candor with a finger on the pulse of reality. Above the boxed-in signature that appears at the bottom of each phrase, Reinhart expresses, “This is how I know I love you so much. Whenever I see something beautiful, I want you to see it, too.”

Not only did this particular poem encapsulate the beauty of shared moments in time, but it also premeditated the theme that would flow through the rest of this collection. Reinhart seemingly used this project as a cathartic release for her not-so-favorable opinions of love, juxtaposing these beliefs with an elegant discussion about the beauty that lay in the underbelly. 

However, most of all, she seemed to be documenting her process of learning to float between both, as if swimming through her uncertainties about tenderness and devotion. 

Though tides are rough, Reinhart encapsulates the assurance of knowing you’re not alone, even if every sign and occurrence indicates that you are. She effortlessly held my hand as I learned to swim too, and it is for this that I am forever grateful.