Poet Ulrike Narwani and her husband Dru in their living room in North Saanich. (Hugo Wong/News staff)

Writing from a lifetime of travel

North Saanich poet Ulrike Narwani to read at the SHOAL Centre Nov. 24

From her home in North Saanich, poet Ulrike Narwani is surrounded by mementos of her travels, among them trunks, tapestries and a two-faced shadow puppet from Bali. Her husband Dru’s position as a high-level banker took them to Wall Street, London, Mumbai, and finally Bangkok, where he was the CEO of Standard Chartered bank’s Thai operation. These big moves were supplemented by smaller vacations in their Cessna 182 which the couple flew themselves, and these travels are reflected in much of her poetry.

On Nov. 24, she will be sharing poems from her new collection, Collecting Silence, at the SHOAL Centre along with former Parks Canada warden George Mercer. The reading is to support the 2019 Sidney and Peninsula Literary Festival.

Narwani always had an interest in writing and literature, but did not start writing poetry in earnest until her mid-60s after seeing her ailing father walk down a laneway between trees, which she said captured his tenacity, perseverance and desire for life.

“There are moments, memories that grab you and make you want to find the words to express them and make them come alive,” she said.

The poem took her three years to write, and she had no intention of continuing with poetry, but she said “more poems kept coming.” She credits Yvonne Blomer, Victoria’s poet laureate, who she said “helped me pull my bundle of poems together and help me shape them into a book.” Narwani has become a regular attendee at the Planet Earth poetry reading series — a regular open mic night at Hillside Coffee and Tea in Victoria.

She did not have a theme in mind when she wrote the book, but she noticed recurring themes of loss and separation, walls and distance. She was particularly moved by an image of ghost lillies, which sprouted up from the abandoned buildings in Detroit. She reads poetry in the morning, which often inspires her.

“Because these thoughts percolate in the back of your mind, something comes up. A word, a phrase, sometimes a poem starts coming out on the page.”

When the family moved every few years, the Narwanis made good use of their Cessna.

“When my friends were on the golf course on a Saturday morning, we’d get into my little airplane and fly from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, or go from Mumbai to Agra, or we’d go from Bournemouth in England to Dinard in France. That’s what we did on our weekends and holidays,” said Dru.

After overseeing the $300 million USD acquisition of Nakornthon Bank in 1999, Dru was looking for a change in lifestyle.

“I’m 50 now, banking’s been a lot of fun but I don’t want to die a rich banker. I want to do more with my life,” he said.

He wanted to connect with friends, family, his daughters. The family originally moved back to Toronto, but found it too busy. They sold their plane in Australia before moving back to Canada, and Dru was looking for a replacement. The right plane happened to be in Comox, which brought them by chance back to the same island they went for their honeymoon in 1972. They have, however, moved on from Ulrike’s old Volkswagen and the pup tent they used the first time around.

Tickets are $10 at Tanner’s Books and online at sidneyliteraryfestival.ca/tickets


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Well-known former B.C. radio personality and politician Barrie Clark dies

Clark remembered as a fair-minded ‘statesman,’ who always saw the big picture

Saanich teen helps save three people from the Gorge

53-year-old male who was submerged is expected to recover

Saanich Police speed reader board stolen

Traffic safety device taken from the 4700 block of Interurban Road

Teenager target of indecent exposure at Willows Beach in Oak Bay

Suspect exposed his genitals to a teenage girl Saturday

Group calls for limited access to backcountry roads near Jordan River

Victoria Fish and Game Protective Association says closures would limit misuse of woods

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

Police officers injured in Trans Mountain pipeline arrests: RCMP

One suffered a head injury after being kicked, another hurt a knee, and a third hurt a hand

Horgan promises new school funding formula in B.C.

Premier addresses B.C. Teachers Federation AGM ahead of contract negotiations starting next year

Reader Photos: First day of spring around British Columbia

Our loyal viewers sent us some of their favourite Spring photos from all corners of the province

Human remains found in Campbell River in February under investigation as a homicide

In mid-February, RCMP announced that human remains had been located in a… Continue reading

Five Canadian kids charged with making school threats

Police say online threats are on the rise

Not even Ellen DeGeneres can get Virtue, Moir to say they’re more than friends

Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” Tuesday

Victoria partners on ‘Stigma-Free Zone’ event tonight

Free event will see discussions around mental illness and reducing existing stigma in the community

RCMP warn public to stop pouring gas on fires after three incidents

Police responded to three recent incidents that sent seven people to hospital

Most Read