Poet Sadhu Binning, Vancouver 2008
Profile at www.writersunion.ca
UBC Conference A seminar in honor of Sadhu Binning
I met Sadhu Binning in one of the earlier festivals of Desh Pardesh (1988-2001) in Toronto at the end of 1980s. Desh Pardesh was an inspiring coalition of cultural organizations and individuals spearheaded by the gay South Asians of Khush, and later, the members of South Asian Visual Arts Collective (SAVAC); its impact on South Asian cultural communities in Canada and US is deep and unmistakable.
Next, i saw Sadhu in Surrey in 2005 when Dr. Manjur Ejaz (www.wichaar.com) was visiting from Washington to comemorate Dr. Prem Prakash Singh. Yet after all this time, there was no feeling of discontinuity; and that in part, is the healing experience of coming across Sadhu Binning or his poems.
It is rare to meet a person who appears to be serenely unified in this disjointed world as he uses his soft but firm poetic voice in Punjabi Canadian literature.
It is difficult to find a Punjabi poet in the West who has expressed the pain and loss resulting from the experience of migration, and has then gone on to deliver the pleasant possibility of an evolved integration.
It is impossible to find a poetic voice that sustains its nuances when crossing the boundaries of one language while housed into the other.
This one poem says it all:
No More Watnu Dur
A Punjabi/English poem by Sadhu Binning
letters that I wrote
to my family
to my friends
in the last one century
were all written
from a foreign land
to the motherland
but the letter that I just wrote
about the news of my father’s death
from my country to another country
My father left his home a long time ago
he lived with the dream of
one day returning to his fields
to spend the last of his days in peace
now along with his body
all his dreams are melted into this land
I have dropped his ashes
in icy river water
he has become part of this soil
From Binning’s Punjabi/English poetry collection ‘No More Watno Dur’ (No More Away From Home), published 1995 by TSAR Publications in Toronto.
Considering Binning’s contributions to the development of Punjabi language and literature in Canada, the University of British Columbia (UBC) has organized a two-day conference (April 26-27, Vancouver 2008) on Punjabi literature to honour Sadhu Binning. From the line-up, it seems like an exciting event; thanks to Anne Murphy, a fellow faculty member of Sadhu at the UBC.