My first initiation into the world of Academia happened at the age of 17, at an important seminar presented by the famous scholar, Uri Lotman. Professor Lotman was teaching a course on Russian 18th century Cultural History, writing a detailed bibliography on the class blackboard in French, German, English and, I think, Italian.
We, the newly-fanged scholars and researches, looked at each other in dismay, but didn’t dare to raise any objections.
Accepted into the Great Temple of Philology, we were treated as his equals. And, if we, for some reason, didn’t have the reading knowledge of a given European language, we still had a couple of weeks until the next seminar to acquire that knowledge! For the next 30 years of my teaching career, I have been trying to bring this high standard of scholarship into my classrooms.
As a Ph.D. student of this professor, I made an important discovery: that all aspects of the humanities are deeply interconnected - in spite of a seeming fragmentation of the studies in human culture. In the coming years, I studied philosophy, psychology, film, theatre, folklore and visual arts. Together with my students, I am always fascinated to discover the hidden threads that connect all of our human activities across languages and borders.
In 1987, I emigrated to Canada from the USSR, with my two then small sons, two suitcases, and one hundred dollars - all the Soviet government - a proponent of Marxist materialism in theory but a defender of extreme non-materialism in practice - allowed me to take with me.
I became a producer and broadcaster at CBC Radio - a job I loved. However, subsequent downsizing of CBC took into account my nostalgia for a podium and returned me to teach at Dawson College in Montreal, followed by UBC and Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.
When I don’t teach (or study), I write. Somehow I got to believe since my early childhood that I had to name things in order to understand them. But ultimately, it is my curiosity about human condition that brings me to my desk. As a person, I can only live one life, my horizons inevitably defined by my biography. As a writer, all I need is a magic carpet of fiction to experience infinite lives and circumstances in any part of the globe. Two collections of my novellas and short stories -Tractorina’s Travels and Runic Alphabet - and two children's books were published by MW Books in BC.
My two latest books - Expulsion and other stories and Lucia's Eyes and other stories - were published by Guernica Edtions in Toronto. All books are available through online resellers and in book stores.
In order to have this proverbial balance in life (but mainly to get away from my computer) I teach yoga and dance tango (with an often unjustified fervor).
In the meantime, my eldest son became a Professor of Mathematics at Dalhousie University in Halifax, the other a film star and a producer in Moscow with 50 films to his credit, including the role of Styr, in "Game of Thrones" Season 4.
Copyright © 2015 Marina Sonkina. All rights reserved.