Red Room Blog
12th May 2020
"I’m caught between two worlds" – Saba Vasefi
By Saba Vasefi
Poet Saba Vasefi reflects on Shadow catchers, the convergence between the mirror and memory, and creating poems for her Red Room Poetry commission.
When I first viewed the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ photographic exhibition, ‘Shadow catchers’, I perceived a link between the pictures and my own poems — both arise from a liminal space.
The haunting, mirror-like images in Shadow catchers reflect my own memory triggers to resistance. By interrogating photographic realism, these photographs situate the viewer in a state of in-between-ness — a state which I, as an outlier in both Iran and Australia, occupy.
The convergence of the 'mirror' (or so-called objective lens of history) with personal memory is an essential component of my transfiguration of remembrance into the creative re-enactment of poetry. Like the images in Shadow catchers, my poems express the abstract experience of multiple histories, realities and identities. They are my way of rewriting and resisting the sanctioned narratives I was coerced into accepting during the 1980s growing up in Iran, and now in the West. They are a re-historisation that integrates all that has been forced to hide in the shadows.
Although I am now writing in English in Australia, my emotions still resonate from Iran, where I think in Persian. I’m caught between two worlds, and every day must fill the space in-between. That space is sometimes emptiness; poetry is a healing way to deal with that void, to reclaim the process of disenfranchisement and salve the unsanctioned grief of having suffered the consequences of living under a theocratic government, and of experiencing the rupture of displacement.