Rena Graefner: Poet/ Writer

Rena Flannigan was born in Scotland and many years ago moved to fill her childhood dream to live in Canada.  Her biggest success was becoming the speed skating champion of Scotland and Great Britain.  She became the Canadian Champion at Kempenfeldt Bay, Barrie in 1964.  Always athletic, she was a good tennis player and skier. Later, she found her niche on the dance floor winning trophies for Latin and Ballroom dancing.  Rena was a tailoress, a teacher of Fashion and Design, and she became the Vice-Principal of a private designing school.  These were followed by a career as a Tour Guide and Manager, her all-time favourite occupation.  Now she is learning how to use a computer and wants to be a writer of various genres.

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SPRING, WHERE ARE YOU?

Snowdrops appear

Their bell heads waving in the breeze

There is no sound of ringing

Are they sad because

The April showers are not here

To give them a drink?

Instead of April showers

Bringing the flowers

There are snowflakes

Dancing in the wind

Enough to cover the snowdrops

Holding back other colourful buds

The trees once again have branches of white

There should be green all around

Snow is for winter

It is now Spring, but it is hard to tell

A white carpet covers everything

It is all over the grass and flower beds

Are the buds on the trees also confused?

Are they hiding, waiting for the sun

To warm them and welcome them

To please the souls

Of the winter’s weary people?

Will it end soon is a question we all ask

To see a blue sky during the day

Lifts the spirits and hopes high

The night falls

So does the snow – again

This is not supposed to happen

It is April not bitter winter

Mother Nature fooled us

No snow when it should have been here

Summer in January.  Some days

Shirt sleeve weather,

The climate is so confused

Upside down and back to front

Even the sun is hiding

Above the grey clouds

No warmth can we feel in the air

To lift our spirits out of the doldrums

We must think positive

Spring will come . . . it must.

Janet Naidu -Poet

Janet Naidu was born in Covent Garden, Guyana, a rural village close to the sugar plantations of Farm and Diamond.  Janet comes from humble beginnings—her father worked as a cane cutter and her mother sold greens in the village and in the market place.  She, along with her seven siblings assisted their parents in earning extra income.

Janet has made Canada her home since 1975. In 1973, two of her poems appeared in a small booklet called Heritage. After writing sporadically over the years, her first collection of poems, Winged Heart (1999) was short-listed for the Guyana Prize for Literature, poetry category.  Her other two collections include Rainwater (2005) and Sacred Silence (2009). Her poems capture themes of uprooted movements, nostalgic memories, resettlement, feminism, resilience and survival. Her writings also include essays of cultural and historical themes. Janet Naidu (4)
Her poetry and writings have appeared in news media, online publications, anthologies, referenced in books on Indo Caribbean themes and in the Women’s Journal of the University of the West Indies.

Janet obtained a BA from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of London, UK.


Janet, thanks for taking the time to do this interview for my readers. I’d like to focus on your collection Rainwater, in addition to your writing, in general.

Q. At what age did you start to write? What do you remember writing about? Does that writing still exist today?

A. As a teenager I sold greens in the village with my mother and had a notepad to write down credit given to the villagers. I used to also make little sketches and writings at the back pages when I waited for people to purchase items in our baskets. But most significantly, I started writing to pen pals around the world after posting my name and address in a pen pal magazine. I had pen pals from New Zealand, England, Germany, Japan, Pakistan, USA and many other countries. It was during this time, I entered into writing to pen pals around the world, telling them about my family life at home, and life in Guyana. I used to get creative, talking about simple things in the village, like when the sugar cane would burn and the cane dust would come through our windows. I made it sound exciting. Living in Canada, I am often taken back to that time when I was care free and thoughts of the natural world flowed so greater then. This reflection continues to influence my writing.

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