Monday, April 27, 2015

Review ⎪Glitterwolf: A Letter to My 16 Year Old Self ed. Matt Cresswell

"Dear Me,
It is not easy to write this review. It took me longer than expected. The letters I read in this collection were deeply moving, and as consequence left me thinking too much about a 16 year old dreamer and the lifetimes lived since. Could I ever be brave enough to share myself, my truths, as intimately and bravely as these writers? I don't believe so. But they did. And, now, I can't stop thinking about their honesty, struggles, happiness, and sorrows."
Hilcia
Glitterwolf: A Letter To My 16 Year Old Self edited by Matt Cresswell is a collection featuring 33 LGBT authors sending a letter to their sixteen year old selves. The core theme is Identity. The identity theme is strongly carried throughout the collection by contributing authors identifying as gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, genderqueer, and one from a married gay man who remains in the closet to this day. The letters’ contents are as diverse as the writers’ identities and experiences.
"I know you're not like the other girls in your class, you never have been, you never will be. That's okay though, it really is, you can live in that in-between world quite happily where you're female but you're not a girl. Not girlie. You don't need to be.

It doesn't matter. None of it. None of the little boxes you're so desperately trying to fit yourself into matter. Not now, not later." Rhian Williams
The collection is 78 pages and the majority of the letters are one to two pages long. Length, however, does not preclude this collection from making a high impact on the reader. All the letters are personal and deeply moving.
"Days that feel dark, days that seem neverendingly hopeless, do end. The sun does rise, whether or not you want it to (and there are days you want both). Accept joy. Accept love. Accept the messiness of existing. Embrace it all. You will never have the chance to do so again once it's gone. Breathe." Victoria Villasenor
The letters range from the optimistic and brilliantly defiant to sad and downright dark in content. There is no getting away from a shared sense of loneliness, isolation, subtle anger, and caring tenderness. There is also hope, whether the focus of that hope is centered on finding love or a successful career shifts with each individual.

I also found it fascinating that there is a secondary, underlying generational theme to this collection since the contributors' ages range from the early 20's to the 60's. The letters are written from the present to the writers’ past selves, and so age, hindsight, and experience must be taken into consideration. Unfortunately, place and society's fluctuating viewpoints are also a factor.
"It is so easy to be queer, where and when you are, or is it me? I don't even remember realizing I was different to my friends or deciding to keep it a secret. It was no problem." Nick Campbell
Campbell's experience seems to be in the minority. The majority of the letters show inner and outer struggles. Older generations and those growing up in small towns seem to have had a tougher time as teenagers struggling with identity issues. Gay poet C.S. Crown's letter is representative of his generation's experiences, however, it stands out for different reasons. Crown is 65 years old, married, and in the closet. This fascinating letter clearly, and without hesitation, outlines a lifetime of decisions.
"[…] the shadows from your closet will call out to you over and over again, and you will dream of the man-you-might-have-been. Look carefully at the shadows; I am one of them. Will you recognize me?" C. S. Crown
Ultimately, the strength of this excellent collection lies in the intimacy with which the contributing writers, as individuals, share pivotal moments while in their journey to embracing identity -- going from the uncertain questioning of the 16 year old, to the knowing, accepting, “Me.” Highly recommended.
"When you are my age, even earlier, you'll find that your name would stand for something that you no longer identify with, your identity as a boy. You are probably saying right now "What are you talking about?" Hello, I was you. I know about how much you felt since you were 5 that you should've been born a girl." Paulina Angel
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Glitterwolf: A Letter to My 16 Year Old Self edited by Matt Cresswell is out now available via all Amazon marketplaces. It has been released on its own, or can also be purchased as part of Issue Eight of Glitterwolf. The Attic Press Website: www. glitterwolf.com

2 comments:

  1. This collection seems to be something I'd enjoy reading. I'll add it to my TBR lol and I'll try to buy it soon.

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    Replies
    1. I look forward to discussing the letters after you post your thoughts, Sonia. I hope you like this collection as much as I did.

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