The180

Meet Surrey's first poet laureate.

In the past, the words "Surrey" and "culture" were only put together as part of a joke at the city's expense. Surrey's first poet laureate, Renee Saklikar, is determined to reveal Surrey's literary and poetic culture.
Renée Saklikar, Surrey Poet Laureate (Kathryn Marlow)

In the past, the words "Surrey" and "culture" were often put together as part of a joke at the city's expense. But Surrey's first poet laureate, Renée Sarojini Saklikar says she is determined to reveal Surrey's literary and poetic culture.

According to Surrey mayor Linda Hepner, the poet laureate position was created to "creatively engage and connect with our community and will be a strong advocate for literacy and the literary arts." 

Saklikar's poetry covers themes that would be familiar to many Surrey residents. She's especially interested in stories of arrival, departure, settlement, and diaspora. She finds inspiration in the community.  
Surrey Poet Laureate Renée Saklikar speaks with Jim Brown of CBC's 'The 180' at Surrey Public Library.
Life is full of shadow. And darkness and light exist together. And that is where poetry lives. As poet laureate, I go towards that.- Renée Sarojini Saklikar

Saklikar is trying to reach beyond traditional bounds of literary to get people involved in poetry. Apart from her official public appearances and events, she does writing consultations with aspiring writers and poets. She says she's also looking to create cultural opportunities in unlikely places. For example, she's looking to hold poetry workshops with prisoners at the Surrey Pretrial Centre.

Surrey, for me embodies Canada. There's this openness to this idea of, "how can we live better together?

Saklikar says that Surrey is a unique cultural environment.

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