The Arithmetic of the Heart (<3) by Alexej Savreux

★★★★  The Arithmetic of <3 is Alexej Savreux’s third collection of poetry, sharply focused on the unattainable and unquantifiable feeling we all know as ‘love.’ (You can read our reviews of the authors previous poetry collections here and here.) Strung together like pearlescent beads on a piece of jewelry, Savreux’s poems glitter with their own unique inner power. Over the course of twenty pages, The Arithmetic of <3 takes readers on a tour of romance, offering simplistic equations like ‘1 + 1 = 2 / 2 = 1 = <3’ to represent how romantic feelings are anything but simple.  It’s a quite effective foil, really, and one that focuses as much on the interior turmoil that love causes, as much as it does on trying to communicate those feelings to the people around us.

The Arithmetic of <3 is perhaps Savreux’s most accessible work to date. After all, who among us can’t relate to the uncertainty that arises when we develop affection for other people? Savreux highlights the absolutely transcendental aspects of love by adopting a religious parlance, his poetry rife with refrains that seemingly echo classic church hymns. Yet he vacillates between this tone and a simplified “text speak,” that serves to show how love has many different layers—and how humans tend to overcomplicate things by talking them to death. In this manner, The Arithmetic of <3 will likely be an immersive, meta experience for most readers, offering several answers to the question “What is love?” but ultimately showing how the question itself isn’t that important in the overall scheme of a person’s life.