When Poetry Meets Epistle
Guest book review by Sylvia Aguilar Zéleny
The Lost Letters of Mileva, by M. Miranda Maloney (Pandora Lobo Estepario Press, 2014)
The Lost Letters of Mileva by M. Miranda Maloney reconstructs the life of Mileva Marić, the only woman among Albert Einstein's fellow students at the Zurich Polytechnic and his first wife. The book is a both a love story and an exemplary dialogue between poetry, prose and epistle.
By fictionalizing the writing of Mileva, Maloney creates the voice, tone and texture of a woman whose days “bleed dark,” because of the absence of her loved one. “I wait and dance with my agony. / Cold in bed.” Mileva states.
On one level these are the letters that Mileva writes to Albert, the letters that allow the reader to witness the fall and rise of their love; at the same time, these letters become Mileva’s escape of the waiting, the wanting. Writing these poetic letters and doing equations is how she survives the distance of her lover, “I yield / to the memory of your arms, my hands / over your hard stomach.”
Novelist Joseph Conrad stated, “Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men.” Mileva’s task becomes even more difficult because she has to deal with both a man and a genius, a lover and a colleague; his absence makes her question their relationship, “Does my exoticness excite you? / or do you need me for my theory of functions?” Mileva asks Albert.
Lost Letters offers the reader the opportunity to become a witness to the life and love of this woman whose letters become a confessional space. The reader thus not only "consumes" this love story but is confronted with a much more intimate and active experience. Maloney has exceptionally created an alliance between prose and poetry, document and imagination, and has found a way to tell us there was a story here that needed to be written. M. Miranda Maloney is a woman poet who has built the voice of a woman who is also a poet and invites to “Love everything / Love nothing.”
Maloney is founder of Mouthfeel Press, based in El Paso, Tex., where she lives. She has a MFA in Bilingual Creative Writing from the University of Texas at El Paso. She is also the author of The City of I Love (Ranchos Press, 2011).
Sylvia Aguilar Zéleny is a translator and fiction writer. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Texas at El Paso. She translated Jane: A Murder by Maggie Nelson, to be published by Nitro-Press in 2016. She belonged to The Writing Lab in Tijuana-San Diego and has published four books of fiction in Mexico. She is the author of Coming Out, a Young Adult novel series to be published by Epic Books this fall.