When Renée Saklikar was aged 23, her aunt and uncle were murdered aboard Air India Flight 182. Among the many viewpoints encased in her debut collection, children of air India (Nightwood 2013), she examines why most Canadians still feel more strongly about the 9/11 terrorism attacks that killed New Yorkers rather than the Air India disaster, on June 23, 1985, that killed 329 people, mostly Canadians, making it Canada's worst mass murder. Saklikar's elegiac sequences explore private loss and public trauma, blending fiction and poetry, after a 20-year investigation culminated in a high-profile trial that ended with the accused being acquitted, adding to the pain. The title of her debut collection is uncapitalized and presented as children of air india: un/authorized exhibita and interjections. It won the Canadian Authors Award for best book of Canadian poetry to be published in English and was a finalist for the B.C. Book prize Dorothy Livesay award.

Renée Sarojini Saklikar was named the first Poet Laureate of Surrey in 2015 and also became involved in the administrative hierarchy of the Writers Union, having also co-written an opera on the Air India tragedy as a Canada-Ireland collaboration. In the same year, she co-edited a new anthology with Wayde Compton, The Revolving City: 51 Poems and the Stories Behind Them (Anvil Press) that includes poetry performed during Lunch Poems at SFU, a poetry reading series that she helped to establish. In late October she was featured on the cover of WE, the West Ender , for the opera project, Air India [Redacted], November 6-11, 2015, at SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts.

Renée Sarojini Saklikar was born in India but moved to Canada at a young age. A graduate of SFU Writers Studio, she is the wife of former provincial NDP leader Adrian Dix and the daughter of Rev. Vasant Saklikar, deceased, a former B.C. School Trustee and United Church Minister. Portions of her life-long poem chronicle called thecanadaproject have been published in various publications such as Ryga: A Journal of Provocations, Georgia Straight, The Vancouver Review, and Prism International.

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Listening to the Bees by Mark L. Winston & Renée Sarojini Saklikar
(Nightwood Editions $22.95)

Revew by Mary Ann Moore

Mark l. Winston, one of the world's leading experts on bees and pollination, writes in one of his essays: "Science with its reliance on data and objectivity, may seem the least poetic of professions, but scientists and poets have at least one thing in common: we share a love of words and exploration.";

Winston's extensive research includes graduate studies at the University of Kansas where he analyzed the mouthparts ("labiomaxillary complex";) of long-tongued bees.

Now Winston and Renée Sarojini Saklikar, Poet Laureate for the City of Surrey, have created a "call-and-response rhythm,"; mixing Winston's essays with Saklikar's poems, for Listening to the Bees.
And, yes, they have included a poem entitled "Labiomaxillary.";

In french guiana on the north-east coast of South America, Winston observed stingless bees. In recent years, he has become an informal advisor to Hives for Humanity (H4H) in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
For twenty years, beginning in 1980, an abandoned building at the edge of SFU downtown became the Bee House where Winston and his researcher students were the Swarm Team.

He continues to learn how bees provide a model for how to be in the world: "collaborative and communicative, listening deeply to others, being present in the moment.";

Renée Sarojini Saklikar is a mentor and instructor for SFU's writing and publishing program who spent time with Winston's original research documents. She writes:
"My poetics lean to language as material, and the quest is to marry song, chants, spells and incantations with syntactical wordplay, embroidering the poems I make with numeric patterns, such as my obsession with both hexagons and anything to do with the number six, and the ten-syllable line, whose movement sometimes leads to form poetic structures...";
In each form, she allows "lyricism to exist within and alongside the language of science"; with less description and more sound.

"Scientific language,"; says Winston, "becomes poetry for me through the sheer joy of jargon's sound and rhythm.";

For instance, one of the terms that "evokes personal resonance"; is "hibernalcum, a place of abode in which a creature seeks refuge.";
There are photos and illustrations throughout the book as well as an appendix of terms related to Winston's published research papers.
Alongside Saklikar's poem "Hibernacula"; is a photograph of the poet sitting on the back of a garden bench surrounded by blooms and structures in the form of large-winged bees.

Saklikar titles a poem "a moishe (To Mark)"; which ends: "into the bee yard / you brought me-and so we whispered / let the song reside in us forever.";
Mark L. Winston says of collaborating with Saklikar, "her poetry has deepened my own thinking about the science I've done over the last forty-five years."; 978-0-88971-346-8

Mary Ann Moore is a poet, and writing mentor in Nanaimo. Her last book was Fishing for Mermaids (Leaf Press) She blogs at apoetsnanaimo.ca

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BOOKS:

children of air india: un/authorized exhibita and interjections.(Nightwood 2013) $18.95 978-0-88971-287-4

The Revolving City: 51 Poems and the Stories Behind Them (Anvil Press), co-edited with Wayde Compton. $18 978-1-77214-032-3

[BCBW 2015] "Air India"