Friday May 12, 2017: evening, up in Room 418, Surrey City Centre public library, writers and friends celebrated the launch of this book: a time-capsule of Surrey, Autumn 2016, through the writings of seniors and youth from the Cloverdale, Strawberry Hill areas of Surrey as well as at Historic Stewart Farm. Co-edited by Meghan Savage and Renee Sarojini Saklikar:
PJ: …Could we talk about your formative years in Surrey/New West? Specifically, when did you start writing poetry, and who were your early inspirations? I imagine living in New West, which is a stone’s throw from the Fraser River, must have some influence in terms of your notion of, well…I’ll let you take it from here.
RSS: I love that phrase, “formative years”: they seem to take the long view with me. Heh. I’ve always had this chronicle-compulsion, just didn’t realize for a long time, that my addiction to writing things down was part of a writing practice, was what defined me as a writer: images, sounds, rhythms, always these were in-coming to me and I took them, language-bits: held, rubbed, stored, taken-out again. My father reading me Mother Goose Nursery rhymes, me, a copy-cat, inventing my own. Scribbling.
So, early inspirations: fairy-tales, nursery rhymes, TV adverts, street signage, dictionaries, the sound of my parents’ speaking/arguing in English-Gujarati (my mother’s mother tongue); the sound of how Other People spoke.
New West when I grew up there, was a well-settled place in the sense of its relation to the colonial history of the province, The Royal City, and as the daughter of a United Church Minister, I settled into place, if that makes sense. My first book, children of air india, un/authorized exhibits and interjections (Nightwood Editions, 2013), explores this idea a fair bit…
And yes, always, the river: I can’t get away from it. Every time I cross The Fraser into/out of Surrey, I have to look up, look at those grey waters, effluent-filled, that deep undertow current: I grew up hearing stories about the grasp of that current, how she’d take you in…”
My long poem, THOT-J-BAP, appears in Issue 12, of Oakland, CA’s Tripwire (David Buuck, editor) in a feature on Vancouver writers, including…
Jordan Abel, George Bowering, Louis Cabri, Jeff Derksen, Amy D’Ath, Mercedes Eng, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Sonnet L’Abbe, Danielle LaFrance, Christine Leclerc, Donato Mancini, Rolf Maurer, rob mclennan, Cecily Nicholson, Lisa Robertson, Stephen Collis, Fred Wah, Rita Wong, and others…
…along with a special tribute to Peter Culley. Thrilled to keep this company and Unceded.
In light of Canada’s 150th anniversary this year, there is a lot of conversation about our country—its past, present, and future. How are local artists responding to Canada?”
Location: Surrey Art Gallery, 13750 88 Avenue
Date & Time: July 27, 2017 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Presented by the Surrey Art Gallery and Arts Council of Surrey
Join Heidi Greco and I for Amelia Earhart’s 120th Birthday Celebration – there will be a reading, a mini-writing workshop, and also cake!
Explore the art of memoir writing with Surrey’s Poet Laureate Renée Sarojini Saklikar and Surrey author and memoir coach Sylvia Taylor. Inspiration will draw from the rich multicultural fabric of Surrey. We’ll examine our unique relationship to the west coast and its waterways. Group and individual writing exercises will prepare you to write your own life story! For teens ages 12-18.”
Date: Thursday, July 6th
Time: 1:30 – 4:30 PM
Location: City Centre Library, 10350 University Drive, Surrey, BC – Teen Lounge