children of air india – thoughts

children of air india – thoughts

Title: children of air india Author: Renée Sarojini Saklikar Publisher: Nightwood Editions, 2013 Pages: 125 ISBN: 978-0-88971-287-4 Price: $13.68 (CDN) This is not a book review because I am faced, for the first time, with something that cannot be reviewed in the usual way. Typically, I would read a book and then write a review to discuss what I liked or disliked about it: was the story was good and engaging, the characters relatable, the world immersive and detailed… Even with poetry, I can usually say if I liked a given poem or not, or whether or not it spoke to me in some way. children of air india did more than merely speak to me, it drove the raw edges of grief, anger, sorrow and unspeakable loss right through the heart of me. Air India Flight 182 was destroyed by a bomb at 31,000 feet off the southern coast of Ireland on June 23, 1985. It was the deadliest terrorist attack Canada has ever known – 329 people, a large number of them children under 13, were killed. 268 of the dead were fellow Canadians. At the time of the bombing, I was 9 years old and utterly ignorant of the event that had just taken place. I was probably wandering around my neighbourhood feeling pleased to have the whole of the summer laid before me with no end in sight. Air India Flight 182 wasn’t on my mind that day, or in the days that followed as I did not follow the news – and my parents probably did little more than watch the reports on TV. I learned of the bombing later, as a teenager, and even then – I failed to understand the significance; I failed to connect those lives with my own. Renée Saklikar’s book of poems, along with other reading, has been the beginning of connection, knowledge and some understanding. For me, the poems seem like fragments from which small pieces of picture emerge: the morning’s activities before the flight, the thoughts of both passengers and their families as they got ready to leave for the airport and all the small moments that string together to make a life: the goodbyes, the squabbles, the worry of being late. Among these moments are the clinical words that describe death: the vocabulary of coroners and lawyers and investigators; the language and words that piece together what happened, even as they cut apart the soft unprotected parts of those left behind to hear them. Toward the end of the book, the poems explore the feelings of being left behind: the reporters, the questions and the futures that will go unlived. This is where attempting to review this works falls apart for me....

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Writer vs. Author – semantic nonsense or important distinction?

Writer vs. Author – semantic nonsense or important distinction?

Last night I was chatting with members of my writing group over Skype when one of the members said, “Actually, I am a writer; I just want to be an author.” I asked him for clarification and he said, “One has published, the other just has books.” I’ve always been annoyed by this distinction between “writer” and “author”, but I did some research – and there are an astonishing number of people who agree with this distinction; who feel that writers are people who haven’t been published and they are therefore not authors. There are others who feel that “author” is a past-tense only way of referring to completed work and that if you’re calling yourself a writer, it’s because you’re currently working on a project, and not dealing with work that’s already done. I also looked up the definitions in my copy of the OED: “author n. & v. 1 a writer, esp. of books.” and “writer n. 1 a person who writes or has written something. 2 a person who writes books; an author.” So, basically, writers and authors are the same thing, and I believe that this is true. When used as interchangeable definitions, I have no issues with people saying they’re an author, and often that sounds better when talking about a writer’s works. For example, “Stephen King, the author of dozens of novels…” sounds more natural than, “Stephen King, the writer of dozens of novels…” For me, the problem comes in when ego (or lack of confidence) gets tossed in the debate of “author” vs. “writer”. Obviously, I haven’t met every published writer ever, so I don’t believe what I’m about to say applies to everyone who calls themselves an author, but in my experience, people distinguishing themselves specifically as authors (and not as writers) do so because a) they want to distance themselves from the hoi polloi who are merely dirty little scribblers without fashion/publishers while they are Published Authors (you can hear them capitalise the title when they speak) who play with the big boys and by god you had better appreciate that fact, or b) they are terribly insecure about their writing – and their desire to write – possibly due to lack of support or even open derision about writing being a silly artsy-fartsy hobby for people who want to avoid having to grow up and get real jobs. If publication is the only barrier to being able to call yourself an author, then that barrier was torn down as soon as the self-publishing industry opened its doors. To say that an unpublished writer is also not an author simply because they aren’t available on Kindle or in paperback format is just a lot of...

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