Renée Sarojini Saklikar writes thecanadaproject, a life-long poem chronicle that includes poetry, fiction, and essays. Published work from the project appears in journals, anthologies, and newspapers, including, ti-TCR / a web folio (The Capilano Review), Literary Review of Canada, The Vancouver Review, Geist, Poetry is Dead, SubTerrain, Arc Poetry Magazine, Ryga, a journal of provocations, and many more. Her first completed book from thecanadaproject is Children of Air India, un/authorized exhibits and interjections, (Nightwood Editions, 2013) winner of the 2014 Canadian Authors Literary Award for poetry and a finalist for the 2014 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Award.
Trained as a lawyer at the University of British Columbia, with a degree in English Literature, Renée was called to the British Columbia Bar in 1991. In 2010, Renée graduated from Simon Fraser University’s The Writers Studio and is currently a mentor and instructor for SFU’s writing and publishing program. She is also the co-founder of the poetry reading series Lunch Poems at SFU and is happy to have had served for two years as a national advocate for The Writer’s Union of Canada.
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. I also serve as a member at large (National Advocate) for the Writers’ Union of Canada.”
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?
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.