Review of sweet hearts: poetry for the anxious and in love, Bella Ryan

sweet hearts: poetry for the anxious and in love by Ryan is her first poetry collection and it is a moving portrait of someone struggling with love within themselves and accepting love from others.

The collection follows the speaker’s journey from meeting someone online to long distance to falling in love. Throughout, anxiety is a heartbeat underpinning the speaker’s reactions to those around them. Poems like ‘when i told them’ and ‘my message in an bottle’ portray those feelings of difference and helplessness felt by someone with anxiety or depression. Often these conditions are met with reductive statements like ‘so, you worry a lot?’ Or ‘you feel sad sometimes, so does everyone.’ And so, Ryan’s raw honesty in ‘dishes’ is heartachingly touching – it is a moment I found incredibly relatable, trying to find the peace and quiet in mundane, monotonous routine because otherwise your mind feels on fire.

But, Ryan does not write without hope. There are sweet tastes of sweethearts as the collection progresses. Ryan’s use of structure means each poem is individual but read together the reader is gifted with a narrative journey culminating in acceptance; demonstrated wonderfully through the ‘new year’ poems which mark every new beginning. Thus, the joy of love in poems like ‘love empiricism’ and ‘my love for him: the 11th dimension’ is palpable, almost tangible.

What I love the most though, is how clearly Ryan’s voice has already matured since the release of this first collection; which means her upcoming release must be an absolute treasure.

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