Renée Sarojini Saklikar’s ground-breaking poetry book about the bombing of Air India Flight 182, children of air india, won the Canadian Authors Association Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Prize. Renée’s second book, The Revolving City: 51 Poems and the Stories Behind Them, edited with Wayde Compton, was a finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Award. Her book, Listening to the Bees, co-authored with Dr. Mark Winston, won the 2019 Gold Medal Independent Publishers Book Award, Environment/Ecology.
Trained as a lawyer, Saklikar is an instructor for SFU and VCC. She was the first Poet Laureate for the City of Surrey, (2015-2018) and was the 2017 UBC Okanagan Writer in Residence. In 2019, Renée served as Writer in Residence for the Surrey English Teachers’ Association. Co-founder and curator of the poetry series Lunch Poems at SFU, her work has been adapted for opera, visual art and dance. Renée serves on the boards of Turning Point Ensemble, Poetry Canada, the Surrey International Writers Conference and The Ormbsy Review.
Passionate about storytelling, Renée offers writing coach services and loves helping others find their creative voice. She recently developed Writing To Heal Your Life, an online course geared to helping creative people in precarious times and published a ghost story x memoir, Man with Golden Helmet in Pulp Literature magazine. Renée is currently working on a sci-fi poetry epic, THOT J BAP, and collaborating on new textile and voice poetry projects. Stay tuned!
On choosing law school:
A great desire to learn more about how things work, legislatively, historically. Certainly, my parents wanted me to enter the profession as my paternal grandfather had been a high court judge in Bombay. I had this idea, still have it, despite all the cynical comments about lawyers, that in a democracy, the rule of law means something, however one might deconstruct it. In 1985, my aunt and uncle died in the Air India bombing. In 1987, I entered law school. It took me a long time to understand how much those two events connected.”
On transitioning from lawyer to poet:
Difficult and marvellous, all at the same time, of course. As I ruefully say to relatives and friends: no corner office with the partners! The study of the law, the membership in the profession, I take seriously. I’ve never let my membership in good standing in the Law Society of British Columbia lapse, since my call in ’91. However, as I went deeper into poetry, of course, I had to give up being a full time practicing member. I’m now a non-practising member and share my experiences about being a lawyer and author with students in the department of continuing studies at SFU.”
Learn more about Renée at the Simon Fraser University Alumni Appreciation Project. You can also contact her in the form below, or follow her on Twitter @reneesarojini.