Happy to return as mentor for a new cohort of writers enrolled in this year’s SFU Southbank Writer’s Program:
The Southbank Writer’s Program is a part-time, three-month program for writers who are just starting to develop their work. Maybe you’re not showing your work to anyone, but you want to. Perhaps you belong to a creative writing group, but you’re looking for a more structured environment, or you want to develop your style. Whatever the case, if you’re ready to pursue your passion for writing, Southbank is for you.
…Focusing on fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, you’ll learn through creative writing courses, workshops, and an opportunity to read your work in public. You’ll also work closely with an experienced writing mentor, both one-on-one and in a group setting.”
Interested? Deadline for applications have been extended to May 22!
This Saturday, come discover the stories of Japanese Canadians in Surrey and learn how to share your family stories using poetry. Free admission at the Surrey City Centre Library, from 1:00pm to 4:00pm.
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…”
As a creative writing instructor, I’m always curious about the different genres through which we find expression, and I’m always learning from my students: no doubt about it, speculative fiction figures a lot in their imaginations. Here’s my debut into that world, a short story “Antony’s Arboretum” published this year in Exile Edition’s Those Who Make Us: Canadian Creature, Myth, and Monster Stories…
“What resides beneath the blankets of snow, under the ripples of water, within the whispers of the wind, and between the husks of trees all across Canada? Creatures, myths and monsters are everywhere…even if we don’t always see them.
This is a unique and powerful collection of all-new, cross-genre tales that take the reader into real and imagined worlds, ranging from an encounter with the Metis creature Rugaru to trolls dissatisfied with modern life, to the demons who follow us from our parents’ countries, and to Anishinaabe myths about the creation of creeks. Eightteen emerging and award-winning authors explore the way we think about and interact with the unnatural showing how much the stories we create can teach us about what it means to be human.” –
Here’s a piece I did for the Georgia Straight back in September. These few hundred words took me three months to write, but I number them among my best work this year. Thank you for Brian Lynch for allowing me the time……
Slave of the Huns by the Hungarian writer Géza Gárdonyi, first published in 1901, brought out in English by Corvina Press in the late ’60s: the book as mysterious object, to hold, to divine. A red cover, with ink drawings by Victor C. Ambrus, the novel sat on a shelf in my father’s library up at the manse in the town of towns…”
Q: Tell me about the suite of poems that appear in Touch the Donkey. What is thecanadaproject, and how do you see the work-in-progress volume 2 extending or expanding upon the work of the first?
A: The suite of poems that appear in Touch the Donkey are excerpted from a sequence, “Bartholomew in the compound, the bees” and this suite of poems lies nestled in the second completed series from thecanadaproject, which is a book length poem, the heart of this journey bears all patterns, commonly known as Thot-J-Bap. The Touch the Donkey suite contains pieces of a collaborative work I’ve embarked on with the Governor General award winning scientist, Dr. Mark Winston: he’s given me access to his scientific work on the honey bee and he and I are working on a set of poems and prose readings that we’ve performed in Vancouver.
Thot-J-Bap is populated by a vast connection of characters, a sampling of which you will see in the excerpt included. The journey of Thot-J-Bap, over the course of decades, indeed, even, eons, explores an imaginary territory, Pacifica, loosely based on British Columbia and the Pacific North West/ Cascadia, as well as the cities of Toronto, Paris, Baghdad and Ahmedabad, and that exploration includes an investigation of various shibboleths: East v West, Empire v other, description v representation, and language in translation, the syntax of the fragment.”
Ontario poet and visual artist, Chris Turnbull, inscribes language into and on to objects, into the world around outside her rural home.
Here, a few photographs and comment-fragments about her process with poems from THOT-J-BAP:
Chris invited me to read the entire Nous-Zot chapbook into an audio file, which Chris says “over time it will ‘replace’ the birch bark pieces, because they’ll erode and the text will change or the birch will drift in the cube.
Eventually, there’ll just be birch bark again, but your voice will be there in the qr-code format.”
As Surrey Poet Laureate, I’m very excited to be launching the anthology, Surrey Stories Connect: Teens and Seniors Write Surrey, on Friday May 12, 6:30-8:30 pm at City Centre Library. Here’s a bit from the official presser:
The book tells the lived experiences of Surrey residents from the Cloverdale and Strawberry Hill areas as well as from Historic Stewart Farm. ‘It’s a time capsule, a snapshot of Surrey in the fall of 2016, written by seniors and teens, during afternoon writing workshops,’ said Saklikar. ‘I am very proud that this anthology contains a chapter of the oral stories of senior citizens, many of whom are women who worked on berry farms and in sawmills. Their stories are translated from Punjabi and Gujarati into English.’
Surrey Stories Connect also includes responses to the writing prompt, ‘I remember when,’ with reminisces of the Surrey of the past as written by participants. ‘The writing captures moments in time, created in one sitting, at three different locations, with stories that reveal the deep diversity of this complex city,’ explains Co-editor, Meghan Savage.
In the Preface of the book, Mayor Linda Hepner remarks that ‘Surrey Stories Connect: Teens and Seniors Write Surrey arrives at a time when we are celebrating the history of Canada as it officially turns 150… The stories serve as an example of Surrey’s rich cultural diversity and unique heritage in Canada.’
Since starting her role as Surrey’s Poet Laureate in October 2015, Saklikar has been working to create a legacy program of poetry-outreach that is multi-lingual and inter-cultural, in partnership with local organizations in Surrey. Her interest has been in furthering grass-roots connections with youth, seniors, and community groups. She has just recently accepted an extension of her position as Surrey’s Poet Laureate for another year and will be serving into the fall of 2018.
Everyone is welcome to attend the book launch, which is part of the Surrey Poet Laureate legacy project, a collaboration between Surrey Libraries, the City of Surrey, and PICS Senior’s Care Facility. The book will be available free of charge. Light refreshments will be provided. Call 604-598-7426 to save your spot! For more information, visit surreylibraries.ca.