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Surrey's Poet Laureate

Surrey’s Poet Laureate acts as an ambassador for the City of Surrey and the people of Surrey, advocating for literacy and the literary arts and helping to raise the status of poetry, language, and the arts in the everyday consciousness of Surrey residents. As part of this, the Poet Laureate also offers writing consultations on poetry or prose.

Renée Sarojini Saklikar began her role as Surrey’s first Poet Laureate in 2015, and will be completing the three-year honorary position on October 31, 2018.

Renée Sarojini Saklikar is Surrey’s inaugural Poet Laureate

Trained as a lawyer at the University of British Columbia, with a degree in English Literature, Renée Sarojini Saklikar teaches creative writing at Simon Fraser University and Vancouver Community College.

Renée’s first book, Children of Air India, (Nightwood Editions, 2013) won the 2014 Canadian Authors Association Award for poetry and her second book, with Wayde Compton, The Revolving City: 51 Poems and the Stories Behind Them (Anvil Press/SFU Public Square, 2015) was a finalist for a 2016 City of Vancouver Book Award.

Fascinated by artistic collaboration, Renée’s work has been made into opera and song cycles (air india [redacted], Turning Point Ensemble, 2015) and visual art (Chris Turnbull).

Renée is working on an epic sci-fi journey poem, THOT-J-BAP, parts of which appear in literary journals (The Capilano Review, Dusie, The Rusty Toque, Tripwire) and chapbooks (above/ground, Nous-zot and Nomados presses) and her chapbook, After the Battle of Kingsway, the bees, was a finalist for the 2017 bpNichol chapbook award.

She recently published a long poem about her personal connection to the Air India Flight 182 bombing, in an anthology of scholarly and artistic work (Remembering Air India, the art of public mourning, University of Alberta Press, 2017). This spring, Renée published poems about bees in the book Listening to the Bees (Nightwood Editions, 2018) in collaboration with scientist and Governor General award winner, Dr. Mark Winston.

As Surrey’s Poet Laureate, Renée has demonstrated her passion for connecting people through poetry through offering free writing consultations, teaching poetry in schools and at community events, and hosting workshops with youth and seniors to tell Surrey stories. Her legacy project involved bringing teens and seniors together to share their stories (Surrey Stories Connect: teens and seniors write Surrey, Surrey Libraries, 2016).

She is currently collaborating with teen writers on a series of chapbook writing workshops. Since starting the position, she has participated in over 40 events each year and mentored over 150 writers through consultations and workshops.

Writing Consultations

Renée is hosting writing consultations on the second Friday of the month. She is offering a free consultation on your poetry or prose. You are welcome to submit a maximum of 10 double-spaced pages to Renée. Registration is required at least one week prior to the consult date.

Renée will read your manuscript before your 45-minute meeting. At the meeting, she may provide you with suggestions about editing, how to publish your work, and how to work with editors and publishers.

Register for a consult: poetlaureate@surrey.ca

Thanks to the City of Surrey, Surrey Libraries, Cultural Development Advisory Committee, Surrey Arts Services, Surrey International Writers’ Conference, Arts Council of Surrey, Creative Writing at Simon Fraser University, Semiahmoo Arts, Surrey Muse, and Kwantlen Polytechnic University that all helped to establish the Poet Laureate project and select the Poet Laureate.