Sundress Reads: Review of Letters to Myself

 

Alexandra Minearu’s self-published poetry collection titled Letters to Myself is an in-depth look into the thoughtful musings of an introspective woman as she grows to love her soul through the painful obstacles of young love and relationships, a complex childhood, and the crippling nature of self-doubt. In her opening message “My Gift to You”, she states her collection was not written for the applause and praise of others but for herself, which instilled a profound sense of honesty and vulnerability that any woman could relate to and find solace in. Throughout the six parts of her collection, the reader embarks on her gripping journey through the tribulations of modern womanhood that elucidate the pain and joy of becoming comfortable in your own skin. 

The wise words and declarations in the first part of the collection, “Self-Worth”, refreshes the jaded mind of a growing woman. Mireanu begins with the values that she has grown to learn over time matter most. The mature poetic voice explains the strife she endured through failed love and bouts of self-doubt which led her to the conclusion that being present for the small accounts of beauty that life provides is why she continues on. She calls out to the reader and proclaims, “Believe in me / when I confess / my love and devotion / to the art of living” in her poem “Today I am reminded.” This line encompasses the heart of our speaker; one that is teeming with curiosity and adoration for the intensity of love and life. Her voice is an adoring older sister smoothing your hair as she tells you that, “to be faithful / you must believe in something kind,” and that kindness rests in the belly of your being if you nurture it. 

In Lessons Learned, the focus surrounds the intoxicating nature of young love and how grave and tortuous the disappointment is for a girl who learns to stifle herself in order to be loved by a callous man. While the sorrow of unreciprocated love shines greatly throughout, there is also a sense of frustration towards the unwillingness of her partner to see the beauty of life that she recognizes. In “He wrapped his arms around my waist”, the speaker harks on this feeling when she states, “you couldn’t hear / through your indifference drowining out all the beauty / you could have in this life”. 

She articulates the desperation and isolation felt in a suffocating relationship so well that I felt sixteen again, “sitting on my kitchen floor / talking to the open air / asking questions between heavy breaths” that my intuition already knew the answers to deep down. Her poems “Running wild in an open field” and “I remember the days” dive into the pain of coming to harrowing truths that sincere and sentimental women face when searching for self-love in a relationship that tells you you’re only lovable if a man says so. 

Though the growing pains of young love can crush one’s spirit, there is still love to be found all around you. This is the tone Mireanu emits in the third part of her collection when she details the comfort of being loved for all that you are, the good, the bad and the ugly. She depicts how unconditional the love of an old friend is in “You’re in good company”, beautifully stating that, “your heart overflows / in the space you’ve shared / the voices in your head / reminding you it’s okay”. Her words are safe and comforting here, highlighting the overwhelming gratitude that comes with having someone who knows you for all that you are. 

As the collection arrives at the closing half, Mireanu recalls her childhood and those involved in it that shaped her into the woman she is today. She writes with heartache, compassion, and grief. The poem for her grandmother, “My grandmother wed, raising two kids”, describes the difficulty in trying to find the words that encapsulate the boundless and infinite love one feels for the role model who shaped your world as a child. She devotes side-by-side poems to her grandmother and grandfather that contrast with the numbness and anger she expresses for an unnamed male figure in the following pieces. The speaker faces the hurdle of “whether to stay or go / my emotions running amok / between these light yellow walls” in her old home of broken dreams in tears that did nothing but crush her spirit in the past. 

“Wandering” and “Observations in the Wild” wrap up the collection with a series of existential and astute introspections from a weathered soul who still chooses hope and love above all else. Mireanu conveys the importance of letting go of your self-doubt and embracing the truth, that “those we love / and those we distaste / we are all children of the same matter / and all matter in the milky way”.

Letters to Myself left me with a desire to travel back to the past to show this collection to my teenage self. Mireanu’s poems shed light on the resilience and beauty of the human spirit amidst adversity and that despite how defeating life can be, your voice always matters. 

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Anna-Quinn French is a junior at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where she studies English, with a concentration in literature and a minor in Philosophy, and works as a student tutor in the Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center. She is a sucker for fantasy romance novels and romantic poetry and is constantly on the hunt for the next story that she can fixate on for months.

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