Friday, October 07, 2011

Quote: Patricia Grace

Patricia Grace
(Kapi Mana News)
I would like to start talking a little bit about the beginning of your writing career.

Well, I always liked writing when I was a child, even though we didn’t really do creative writing as such. I was also a keen reader and I began writing in my mid-twenties when I joined a woman’s writing group that was based in Auckland. I was living too far away to go to the meetings, but I joined as a country member and took part in the monthly writing competitions that they held throughout the year. It was from the encouragement that I got from judges, sometimes doing quite well with my stories, that I gained confidence; and then I began sending stories to be published in journals and magazines and in particular the Te Ao Hou magazine, which was the official journal of the Maori Affairs Department. That was where I also started seeing writing by other Maori writers in English for the first time, so that also helped me develop the kind of confidence that I needed. And eventually my work came to the notice of a publisher in Auckland—Phoebe Meikle—who contacted me and asked me if I had enough short stories for a collection. So that’s how my first collection of short stories Waiariki came about and it was published in 1975.

What was happening in New Zealand at that time? 

I believe there was a group of women who started having their work published around 1975, like Fiona Kidman, Rachel McAlpine or Lauris Edmond.

Did you feel that you were part of that generation or, on the contrary, that you had arrived at that point independently? 

I didn’t really notice it at the time. But it was only later when I came to know these otherpeople that had books published around the same time, although I do remember that I was at Fiona Kidman’s and Lauris Edmond’s book launch in the same year. I suppose my main realisation was that there was beginning to be work by Maori writers published because Witi Ihimaera’s book Pounamu, Pounamu, which came out in 1973, was the first book of fiction ever written by a Maori person. Before that was Hone Tuwhare’s poetry. Hone became a role model for Maori writers, and not only Hone Tuwhare, but there were also other pioneer writers who did not have books published but they were writing at the time.
--from "An Interview with Patricia Grace," conducted by Paloma Fresno Calleja, in Atlantis 25:1 (June 2003): pp. 109-20.

(Patricia Grace, a writer of Maori descent, was born in Wellington, New Zealand, in 1937. She is the author of the first collection of short stories published by a Maori woman, Waiariki (1975), and has subsequently published 7 novels and works of nonfiction, 6 collections of short stories, and three children's books. She received the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 2008.)

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