thecanadaproject is a life-long poem chronicle about place, identity, language. In it are many things, including published material and works in progress such as a prose poem novel, a series of essays about life from India to Canada, coast to coast as well as many sequences of poems, in part, about the places I’ve lived: Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Northern Ontario, Northern Quebec, Montreal, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia. The project will end when I end. It is a series of fragments always asking, when does the poem begin?
To interview another is to engage in process: discovery, interrogation. The question as astrolabe can also be weapon. How to leave space for the subject – that’s what I think about when approaching writers and artists…this section is also about gratitude, for those who do the work. Always there is the challenge: how to stay open—what did Martha Graham exhort?— keep the channel open. Is poetry a project? Dorothea Lasky, whose work I love, thinks not. And yet…
“This is a site of fragments. This is part of a long poem. This is not enough time. This is time, and its dimensions.”
One of my preoccupations as a creative worker: what does it mean to be Canadian? What layers of being make identity complex: citizen-settler-immigrant—Canada was/is a promised land, a paradise, but it is jagged.
For some time now, as I read and listen to Indigenous writers such as Jordan Abel, Joanne Arnott, Billy Ray Belcourt (A Country is How Men Hunt), Therese Mailhout (Heartberries) and many more; as I observe the pain and discomfort this word and concept, “Canada” carries for many—as I read and reread documents about Indian Residential Schools, I’m becoming more and more uneasy with my own implication in structures, and systems.
And this comes to me: Language is a structural system. So, this new decade: thecanadaproject, my lifelong poem chronicle, will now be thecanada?project.
Renée Sarojini Saklikar