Poetry readings happen frequently across the Lower Mainland, but it’s not often that the person interviewing the poet is likely to become B.C.’s next premier. On October 12, NDP Leader Adrian Dix asked questions of his wife, Renée Sarojini Saklikar, in front of an audience at Collingwood Neighbourhood House. This came after she read a poem that was recently published in Ryga: a journal of provocations about the Air India bombing.
Saklikar’s aunt and uncle were passengers on Air India Flight 182, which exploded off the Irish coast on June 23, 1985. She said at the poetry reading that she set out to write a series of lyric elegies to the 82 children who perished on the plane, but found herself feeling like she couldn’t ignore all the others who died.
When asked why many Canadians have not fully acknowledged the magnitude of what the country lost when these people were murdered on Air India Flight 182, Saklikar responded: “I guess if I knew the answer to that, my book would be done and I would be writing the blurb. I don’t have an answer. It’s not easy. The simple, quick, knee-jerk answer is ‘Oh, it’s racism.’ I think it’s more than that. That's woven into it. That's woven into everything.”
Two Japanese baggage handlers died on the same day when a second bomb exploded in a stereo that was aboard a different Air India plane at Narita Airport.
Rachel Rose and Renée Sarojini Saklikar present a poem from Saklikar's Air India series.
Saklikar's poems on the Air India bombings are part of her life-long chronicle called thecanadaproject. In June, she worked with composer Sandy V.A. Moore to create an art song, "The Censor That Is Time", that's based on poems she created about the kids who died in the Air India bombing.
Related article: "The Lesson of Air India Flight 182: Curiosity can save us"