Featured Anthology: Oxford Poets 2007 – Saradha Soobrayen

Saradha Soobrayen is a literary facilitator and Poetry Editor of Chroma: A LGBT Literary Journal. She received an Eric Gregory Award in 2004 for her work. Most creative at night, Soobrayen finds the “unquestioning nature of the dark comforting”, where her concepts of time and certainties change. There are ambiguities surrounding tense in her writing but there should be enough clarity in the sincerity and distinctness of feeling conveyed to “infect the reader”.

In ‘What is Art?’, Tolstoy discusses the distinction between ‘counterfeit art’ and ‘true art’, and describes how the reader becomes infected with the author’s state of mind only when the work emerges from the inner need to express. What often resonates for me in the work is the need for something or someone, a sense of language not fully arrived at. The writing becomes a form of waiting.

The poem featured here, ‘I will unlove you’, is haunting and bleak in its imagery and tone but is a powerful perception of emotional ties (and the falling apart thereof). The writing of the poem and the repetition of “will”, seems to act as a form of therapy here but within it is the knowledge of the impossibility of forcing yourself to ‘unlove’ someone. In the hollowness, emptiness and coldness of this state, there is a sense that to push something away that is natural will only lead to this sense of nothingness. You can stop loving but you can’t ‘unlove’; it’s willing over emotion and reason over feeling.

I will unlove you

I will unlove you and become hollow,
undo every feeling from its hold.

I will restrict blood flow and circulate the cold,
deflate my heart and become shallow.

I will numb my tongue and choose not to swallow,
tie up my larynx, let love go untold.

I will scrub sensation from every fold.
and squeeze the tenderness from my marrow,

But will I still be your Saradha tomorrow?
What becomes of us when love lets go?

(This poem is reproduced with permission from Oxford Poets 2007: An Anthology, edited by David Constantine and Bernard O’Donoghue, published by Carcanet Press.)