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:
In between running Erasure Poetry workshops at the Surrey Children’s Festival, I had the chance to see an incredible show called Sanja:
Sangja takes the audience on a remarkable journey from Korea to Canada, and all of the imaginative places in-between. We follow a boy as he strives to find his unique place in the world and come to terms with the incredible loss of his birth family, language, and culture, while navigating the tensions that occurs when families (and people) don’t fit within our cultural expectations.
Featuring two renowned theatre companies from South Korea and Canada, this play is a dynamic blend of physical theatre, breathtaking puppetry, an extraordinary musical score, and theatrical elements from East and West! Sangja, the Korean word for “box,” explores identity, race, cultural diversity and conformity, non-traditional families, international adoption, and the boxes we put people in.”
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.
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.
Thank you to Paula Tran, the arts editor of The Phoenix News, for publishing this lovely piece. An excerpt from our exchange:
How would you describe yourself in one sentence?” I ask her.
Renee pauses and thinks for a minute. “I am passionate about connecting people through poetry.”