The Creative Writing Interviews form a series of interviews with contributors to our Creative Writing Studies list. Find out about their work and approach towards writing.
Frances Haynes writes: Sandra Burr was born in England but grew up in semi-rural Victoria. She was given her first horse at an early age, which led to a lifelong passion. After doing a Bachelor of Arts and a qualification in librarianship, she enrolled in a Graduate Diploma in Professional Communication at the University of Canberra in 2004, and eventually completed a PhD. Sandra lives in suburban Canberra and keeps two horses on agistment not far from her home. She ride most days and works at the University of Canberra.
Sandra, what do you write?
I write reviews, creative works and academic articles, mostly to do with my work, research and personal interests. At the moment I am the project manager for a research project funded by the Australian Learning & Teaching Council, which looks at how Australian creative arts PhDs are being examined. This has generated quite a few articles and conference papers.
I am also interested in animals and society, particularly horse-human relations, and this has led to conference papers, journal articles, personal essays and poetry. I recently produced a handmade book, Canberra’s Inanimate Animals: a photographic journal, for an exhibition at Belconnen Arts Centre in Canberra. It is part of an ongoing project called City Beasts recording representations of animals in Canberra’s public and street art.
I write book and film reviews for several publications including TEXT: journal of writing and writing courses; M-C Reviews Culture and Media and, The Australian Animals Study Group Bulletin. My work is represented in a number of academic journals, popular magazines, and anthologies both online and in hard copy.
Whom do you write for?
I mainly write for my work but I also write for myself – the things that interest me, such as horses, and I always hope that these will find the right audience.
What achievement are you most proud of as a writer?
While I am really pleased to be able write for different audiences I think I am most proud of completing my PhD in creative writing in 2009. It is called Women and Horses: A study of Australia’s recreational horsewomen and it examines the relationships between contemporary Australian horsewomen and their horses. The thesis is in two parts: a research component and a creative work called Writing Riding: Reflections of an Australian Horsewoman, which is a collection of personal essays, poetry and photographs. Undertaking this PhD opened up the world of creative writing to me and gave me confidence to pursue the areas that I am passionate about.
What involvement do you have / have you had with creative writing as a university/college subject/discipline?
I tutored in creative writing at the University of Canberra throughout my PhD, and continue to teach subjects such as Introduction to Creative Writing, Writing Short Narratives, and Writing for Young People. I also convene a research unit for students in the creative disciplines and I am an examiner for creative arts Higher Degree proposals and a secondary supervisor for HDR candidates in the faculty of Arts & Design. I also referee submissions for several journals and serve on a couple of editorial panels.
What is your ambition as a writer?
While I enjoy the variety that my current writing life offers, I would eventually like to write more poetry and I would really like to get my collection of personal essays about horses published.