Chapbook Review: After the Battle of Kingsway, the bees

After the Battle of Kingsway, the bees

Chapbook, Renée Sarojini Saklikar, 15 pgs, above/ground press,, $4


after-kingsway-scott-brysonThere has never been a Battle of Kingsway, in a literal sense. Kingsway, in this case, is a thoroughfare that runs through Vancouver and Burnaby, and Renée Sarojini Saklikar — Surrey, British Columbia’s first Poet Laureate — has drafted a virtual battle along its length (plus, there are bees).

These poems all appear to be connected and loosely plotted. There are recurring and curiously-named characters — (A)bigail, the INVESTIGATOR is one such example — but their function isn’t always clear; this is not transparent verse. While the events depicted are open to interpretation, it’s evident that Saklikar is draping a historical veil over modern concerns, such as community housing issues and protests.

What this collection portrays more than anything, is the streets and parklands of Vancouver. Significant time is spent dissecting plant and animal life — including several varieties of bee — but the talk on wildlife reliably gives way to urban locales: tennis courts; a lab; shops on Robson Street.

After the Battle of Kingsway, the bees is excerpted from thecanadaproject, Saklikar’s “life- long poem chronicle about place, identity, language.” It’s an effortless read — her style is studious but smooth — though comprehension of the bigger picture will require ongoing contemplation. (Scott Bryson)