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Celebrating Womanhood: Renee Sarojini Saklikar, Writer

Monica Sethi Darpan, 18 Mar, 2024
  • Celebrating Womanhood: Renee Sarojini Saklikar, Writer

"Be gentle with yourself and build a practice. Be open to figuring out what you want to create, reach out to people, and hone your skills. Reading is important. If you want to buy a dining room table, you want to ensure it has four sturdy legs. One of the key skills is reading."-Renee Sarojini Saklikar, Writer

In the tapestry of South Asian women achievers, Renee Sarojini Saklikar stands as a luminary, weaving the threads of her diverse experiences into the artistry of poetry. Born in Pune and transplanted to Canada as a young girl, her early years were marked by isolation and loneliness in remote areas. This solitude birthed Saklikar's profound connection to language and sound, leading her to find solace in the magic of storytelling and the sanctuary of her written words.

Inspired by her mother's struggle as an immigrant to express herself in English, Saklikar took to writing to explore interactions with the world. She recalls her childhood as a bittersweet journey, during which writing became a safe space to navigate the complexities of identity and loneliness.

As an instructor at KPU and an active participant in the literary community, Saklikar's influence extends beyond her pen. Serving on boards, conducting workshops, and volunteering in organizations like the Surrey International Writers Conference, she has become a vital force, nurturing both her creative practice and the aspiring writers around her.

Though marked by breaks and traumas, her journey as a writer blossomed through programs like SFU's Writer's Studio. Despite initially grappling with self-worth, Saklikar discovered her poetic voice later in life. With five books under her belt and working on her sixth, she continuously evolves, refusing to replicate the same artistic pattern.

Saklikar's recent venture into a multi-book series combining poetry with novels reflects her commitment to addressing pressing issues. The themes of climate change, social justice, and representation of women of colour underscore her desire to create narratives that resonate with her experiences.

Emphasizing the importance of daily practice, she encourages aspiring artists "to be gentle with themselves, build a routine, and stay open to the creative universe." For Saklikar, success lies not in external validation but in commitment to the work itself.

One of her cherished quotes, attributed to Martha Graham, encapsulates the essence of keeping the creative channel open. Saklikar advises those navigating multiple cultural identities to build a practice, be open to creation, and cherish the skill of reading.

As Saklikar continues to craft worlds with her words, she hopes her readers feel cared for and find a haven in her stories. Through her poetry, she invites us to explore the magic of language and the transformative power of storytelling. In the tapestry of South Asian women achievers, Renee Sarojini Saklikar stands as a vibrant thread, weaving the beauty of diversity and resilience into the literary landscape.

What are some of the challenges you have encountered on your journey?

One of the hardest things for artists, writers, or any type of creative is understanding why they are worthy of doing this work. Why would their work matter? How can they bring their story out into the world when there's already so much there, so much that’s great? It's a struggle encapsulated in the "why bother blues."

What's your favourite quote?

"It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open." - Martha Graham

What would you advise those who feel inspired by your journey?

Be gentle with yourself and build a practice. Be open to figuring out what you want to create, reach out to people, and hone your skills. Reading is important. If you want to buy a dining room table, you want to ensure it has four sturdy legs. One of the key skills is reading.  

What impact do you think and hope your work has on people?

I hope they'll pick up the book and feel really cared for. I hope they'll love and dive into the worldbuilding, characters and magic I create through my words.

What's your mantra for success?

I try to do a little bit of writing, a little bit of reading, and a little bit of dancing. I think of my life as a practice—I break down the things I want to do into little chunks and consistently do a little bit every day. That, I feel, is the secret of living a good life.

Photo: Fahad Photo

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