Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction are some of my Literary Interests





Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sandra Bunting A Question and Answer Session with the author of "The Wind Throws It Back"


March 1 to April 7
"The Wind Throws It Back"
Sandra Bunting
If you would like to participate in ISSM3, please then contact me.

Sandra Bunting lives and writes in the west of Ireland 

Sandra Bunting studied and worked in communications (radio, television, print media, PR) in Toronto before travelling and living in France and Spain


On the editorial board of literary magazine Crannog, she has been a member of the Galway Writers' Workshop that meets at the Bridge Mills since 2002. She also helps edit Tribe Vibes, a newsletter of the Galway City Community Forum.

A writer of both prose and poetry, she is now working on a novel.
Besides writing, Sandra enjoys silk painting, batik and print-making and has an exhibition at the local library in March, 2005.

She has published extensively both online and in print journals

Sandra Bunting lives and writes in the west of Ireland 

Sandra Bunting studied and worked in communications (radio, television, print media, PR) in Toronto before travelling and living in France and Spain


On the editorial board of literary magazine Crannog, she has been a member of the Galway Writers' Workshop that meets at the Bridge Mills since 2002. She also helps edit Tribe Vibes, a newsletter of the Galway City Community Forum.

A writer of both prose and poetry, she is now working on a novel.
Besides writing, Sandra enjoys silk painting, batik and print-making and has an exhibition at the local library in March, 2005.

She has published extensively both online and in print journals




Q & A
Sandra Bunting


1.Who are some of the contemporary short story writers you admire? If you had to say, who do you regard as the three best ever short story writers? 

Strangely, the contemporary short story writers I admire have a connection with Canada: Alistair McLeod, Sarah Selecky and Emma Donaghue
The writers I keep going back to are Ellen Gilchrist, James joyce and Joyce Carol Oates.
2. I have read lots of Indian and American short stories in addition to Irish and alcohol plays a much bigger part in the Irish stories. How should an outsider take this and what does it say about Irish culture.   When you moved to Ireland from Canada did you perceive that drinking was much more pervasive in Irish society?

Being brought up in the Maritimes, and of Irish descent, I was no stranger to 'drink' when I arrived in Ireland. In literature it has often been used as a device (background, uniting tool, creating conflict.) One of the first questions my Irish father-in-law would ask about someone he didn't know was: "Does he/she take a drink?" It was, I suppose, a way to see if he would be comfortable with that person. I thought that was lovely. However, drink can be obsessive. I know I always drink more when I am in Ireland. And I hide myself away on Rag week and Arthur's day when all there is great abuse on the streets among young people.

3. Declan Kiberd has said the dominant theme of modern Irish literature is that of the weak or missing father? Do you think he is right and how does this, if it does, reveal itself in your work.  In your story I published "The Wind Throws It Back" the father has been missing from his son's life ever since his wife, the mother of the boy died, and he shortly after that moved to London and remarried. Is this story an exemplar of Kiberd's claim? (Sandra-if you can just talk a bit about your general reaction to Kiberd's claim.)

I think that Ireland has benefitted from strong women in literature who have been the backbone of the family. Men, whether working abroad to send home money, having flawed personalities or caught up in the pub culture, sports or politics, tended to distance themselves from the home.
Of course this was a generality. My story, 'The Wind Throws It Back', represents a change away from the tradition Irish male. It shows a contrast from the authoritarian father to the son who is still interested in tradition but daring to question and to feel.



4. when did you start writing?




When I was about 7..... let's say awhile ago.



5. Tell us a bit about the style of fine print making in which you work., please.



I started off as a 'primitive' in art but have persisted. Visual arts allow one to express themselves creatively in a different way than writing. Print making is a very exact form but can also be very fluid. You can turn 'mistakes' into something new and creative. I love it. I also do bookbinding and silk painting.


6.   For sure there is such a thing as The Irish Short story, is there such a thing as "The Canadian Short Story"?




The stories written in 


Canada, like Ireland, are very influenced by the weather and the landscape. There is a lot of material written about the immigrant or first generation experience and stories about relationships in a more urban setting. A feeling of loneliness can perhaps permeate the writing.






7. Tell us a bit about your non-academic non literary work experience please?

I have worked as a waitress in Toronto, a chamber-maid in Brighton, an 'au pair to a gorilla in France, a journalist at CBC radio, an English teacher in Spain. I have taken the census and updated the voting register.

8.    Why did you decide to move to Galway?

I was charmed by a wonderful Irish man I met in Spain. He found the abundance of trees in Canada oppressive so moved to Galway to be by the sea and to open a language school there. The best thing ever in my life.
9. Why have the Irish produced such a disproportional to their population number of great writers?

The character of the Irish, their love of words, and the talent of such in speaking and writing.

10. (This may seem like a silly question but I pose it anyway-do you believe in Fairies?-this quote from Declain Kiberd sort of explains why I am asking this:

" One 1916 veteran recalled, in old age, his youthful conviction that the rebellion would “put an end to the rule of the fairies in Ireland”. In this it was notably unsuccessful: during the 1920s, a young student named Samuel Beckett reported seeing a fairy-man in the New Square of Trinity College Dublin; and two decades later a Galway woman, when asked by an American anthropologist whether she really believed in the “little people”, 
replied with terse sophistication: “I do not, sir – but they’re there."

I would like very much to believe. I keep going back to the old myths and have always been interested in the concept of thin veils between reality and unreality. The late Junior Crehan, the County Clare fiddler and seanachie told may stories about the people of the Sidhe. He says they look just like us and we often don't know what they are until they disappear in front of us. No, I have not seen
 
anything but I have felt it.



11. Do you think the very large amount of remains from neolithic periods (the highest in the world) in Ireland has shaped in the literature and psyche of the country?
 
I feel they are a constant reminder of an mysterious, ancient past.



12. When you write, do you picture somehow a potential audience or do you just write? As a playwright, do you caste the play at least by types as or before you write it?




I try to
 construct a good product and do not write for a particular audience. I did, however, get this particular story read by people familiar with the milieu portrayed as I didn't want to overly offend.


13.  In your role on the board of the print literary Journal Crannog what qualities do you look for in the works you accept?



The four members of the editorial board of Crannóg: Tony O'Dwyer, Ger Burke, Jarlath Fahy and myself, look for originality. We are drawn to active, clear writing that flows well, with everything working together as a whole. We are always on the lookout for great Irish writing but enjoy any work that stands out.

14. Are the days of the print literary journal numbered? 




I hope not. I love the feel of a book in my hand.




15. William Butler Yeats said in "The Literary Movement"-- "“The popular poetry of England celebrates her victories, but the popular poetry of Ireland remembers only defeats and defeated persons”. I see a similarity of this to the heroes of the Philippines. American heroes were all victors, they won wars and achieved independence. The national heroes of the Philippines were almost all ultimately failures, most executed by the Spanish or American rulers. How do you think the fact Yeats is alluding too, assuming you agree, has shaped Irish literature



I don't really know but it could make the poetry unique in that it examines events and personalities from another point of view, a closer self-examination.

16.   When you are outside of Ireland what besides family and friends do you miss the most? what are you glad to be away from for a while?

I miss smiling faces, flexibility, being stopped a million times by different people for a chat on the way to town, the fusion of land, sea and sky. But not the rain.

17. Do you think poets have a social role to play in contemporary Ireland or are they pure artists writing for themselves and a few peers?

They do have a social part to play but as in all poetry the message can be discovered. It doesn't have to hit you over the head.

18. "To creative artists may have fallen the task of explaining what no historian has fully illuminated – the reason why the English came to regard the Irish as inferior and barbarous, on the one hand, and, on the other, poetic and magical."-is this right? Kiberd, Declan (2009-05-04). Inventing Ireland (p. 646).

It's not only the English. The view of the Irish here in Canada is the drinker/the fighter and the jolly personality. Most young Irish people are modern young Europeans and despite the drink, feel quite alien to that image. And people here a
re perhaps slow or reluctant to accept a new image presented through literature. But they are slowly doing so.


19. Do you think Irish Travellers should be granted the status of a distinct ethnic group and be given special rights to make up for past mistreatment? Are the Travellers to the Irish what the Irish were once to the English? I became interested in this question partially through reading the short stories of Desmond Hogan.

It is a difficult question. It is true that Irish Travellers have been misunderstood, but they have not always made things easy for themselves. They have a very strong sense of identity and do not appreciate interference.
20.  My brother and I are making our first trip to Ireland in May-we will spend some time in Galway so I seek your advise.
a. Best place for a traditional Irish Fry breakfast I gave this up several years ago
b. best fish and chips MacDonagh's
c. best spurge Irish restaurant Ard Bia - looking out over the Wild River Corrib
d. dining at a castle-worth it or just for tour groups?
Ashford Castle is divine. Go first to climb around the ruined Abbey in Cong, walk though the woods (site of one of the battles between Tuath De Danaan and Fir Bolgs) and come across castle. You don't have to stay there but it is a splendid walk. Lought Corrib and Mask there for a boat trip to explore little islands if you wish.
e. best Joyce/Nora experience in Galway Nora Barnacle House/Rahoon cemetary
f. best book store. Charlie Byrne's/ Kenny's
g. best place for traditional music The Crane

21.
Do  you prefer e-reading or traditional books?
 
Traditional books.



22. If you were to be given the option of living anywhere besides Ireland or Canada where would you live?

Spain or Latin America. I lived in Spain and loved it. I speak Spanish. The people in Latin America are lovely. There is magic there too.

24. If you could time travel for 30 days (and be rich and safe) where would you go and why?

Tibet, Mongolia and Bhutan (although I don't like heights). I like happy people.

25. Have you attended creative writing workshops and if you have share your experiences a bit please.


If they are constructive, they can be a motivating force for your work, provide a chance to network and try out some of your new work. Bad ones can be destructive.


26. Flash Fiction-how driven is the popularity of this form by social media like Twitter and its word limits? Do you see twitter as somehow leading to playwrights keeping conversations shorter than in years past?

Yes, I think this will become more popular. I have not yet taken it up.


27. How important in shaping the literature of Ireland is its proximity to the sea?

A lot. Can't help but be influenced by water everywhere - sea, rivers, loughs, canals, mist, rain....


28. Quick Pick Questions
a. Alice Munro or William Trevor-who most deserves Nobel Prize? Hard one...Trevor
b. dogs or cats Dogs - My great friend is a Cairn Terrier named Ceo (Irish for Fog)
c.  best city to inspire a writer-London or Dublin Dublin
d.  favorite meal to eat out-breakfast, lunch or dinner? Calimari
e. RTE or BBC BBC
End

I give my great thanks to Sandra Bunting for taking the time to provide us with such interesting answers to my questions. I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

Mel u

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