Flowers Teach Me to Let Go… a collection that tugs at the soul strings | Sunday Observer

Flowers Teach Me to Let Go… a collection that tugs at the soul strings

5 February, 2023
Isurinie Anuradha Mallawaarachchi
Isurinie Anuradha Mallawaarachchi

“I am a tall, tattooed, overweight Amazon who’s shrunk herself to fit into a tiny island.”

Isurinie’s description of self in her opening poem titled ‘(Over)compensation’ is profound. Constantly battling the norms of society, the whispers behind closed doors, the constant push to conformity to ‘fit the mould’, to write what is acceptable.

Isurinie Anuradha Mallawaarachchi (@flowersteachmetoletgo on Instagram) is a lecturer, Attorney-at-Law and a poet. Isurinie’s eccentrically crafted words touch on love, heartbreak, sex and self-exploration. Her first collection of poetry, ‘Flowers Teach Me to Let Go’, was published in September last year. Isurinie is an alumna of the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Law College and the University of Malaya, Malaysia. She is currently working as a lecturer in English and Sociology at a private higher educational institute in Colombo.

The title has the word ‘Flowers’, but this is a far cry from flowery writing. Her words raise eyebrows, they have the power to make one back away in trepidation, but also resonate within us, empowering us to share in her experiences, her thoughts, her pain and her joy – whether we like to admit it or not, she dares us to slip of our masks for a moment and give ourselves a long, hard stare of self-evaluation.


Let’s take a look at a verse from her poem, ‘A hymn for him’:




All of these words you used – preceded by the word ‘issues’

I wish for a world where

Isu is more important than issues

But Isu is always secondary”

The insertion of self so brazenly in her work, the finely crafted wordplay, and that moment when you empathise with the author, as you yourself have been in the same situation… one were your ‘issues’ supersedes the importance of self.

Criticism still comes at us, now more than ever and when you have battled what feels like a lifetime to cover the scars and heal the shattered foundations, this day and age has brought forth “brave” and “courageous” keyboard warriors, and worse, hints and slurs from loved ones.

“I’ve been scared of the word ‘extra’ ever since… I’ve shrunk myself so I won’t take up extra space.”


The words are heartrending. Body-shaming, as unintentional as it may have been. Her poetry makes us check our words; the way we speak to our own children. They make us think whether we say and do things that affect the people around us? People who look up to us; our children?

Isurinie is not done yet. She is currently working on her second poetry collection. “I think this one diverts from the first book’s theme of flowers. In this book, I talk about my experiences growing up and gender-related themes that move me,” says Isurinie.

Talking to Isurinie about her inspiration to write, she said: “For me, writing is a rather personal, cathartic exercise. So, my personal experiences, emotions, as well as social, political incidents that move me, all of these inspire me to write.” And what does she immerse herself in? What writing does she read herself? “As someone who studied English and Sinhala literature, I read a lot of poetry – fromclassics to contemporary.”

And so I leave you with a few lines from Isurinie’s poem ‘Inspiration’, “So I will cry, write, publish, inspire…” and inspire us as she certainly does.