Random Sample Review
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That Spring, Simi Valley turned green. The storms started in December and billowed through March. In other years, the apple blossoms would have been chewed dry and brown by the end of February.
That Spring, Simi Valley turned
floodings of poppies across the valley’s dustiest corners
How did they get here?
How did they—
We needed something serious, something noble for the flowers
we quoted Oprah:
You can either see yourself as a wave in the ocean
or you can see yourself as the ocean.
You can read the whole story here.
Collective Unrest Literary Magazine
Shaj is fifteen. She is three years older than me but she is my sister even though we are not in the same family. But we are sisters because we are best friends. Shaj and me go to school together and we always walk in the main streets and pass by the chicken sellers and the man who roasts the peanuts. Shaj says watch the road and watch the stalls and watch the places behind the stalls because there are badmashand they are everywhere.
Anomaly Literary Journal, Fall 2019
Scrolling across the club walls: slash of silhouettes like a fist of razor blades, X’d arms and legs, Nagel hair. And they’re gone. The famous Troix-Croix Gymnasts. Twenty-two hours, countless takes. Three seconds of on-screen time. Count that. One-one-hundred-two-one-hundred-three-one-hundred.
Wedge of eight suits, shoulders slicing past the girls on reception, looking at no one looking at everyone. Bodyguards orbiting, their blunt dog heads turning, ears looped with wires.
The suits are high on the win and the celebration still only three hours old. They shouldn’t even be there but the center of their group, short black hair, wide grin, maverick eyes, is young enough to insist. It’s my party. Landslide win.
The Blue Mountain Review, August 2019
I am running and everyone is running away from Macy’s and Wetzel’s and the stall selling phone cases and I am holding onto the Baby Bjorn with Leela’s head peeking out the top. I am holding on like she is part of me which she is and has been for the past year and three months, but only outside my body for six. And I am so glad I’m wearing tennis shoes and not my usual slip ons.
I am running fast. Run, mommy, run. I’ve left the stroller and the bags of whatever it was I can’t remember.
The Comstock Review, 2019
"4,500 Complaints 2014-2018
Office of Refugee Settlement, HHS"
A report about the abuse of unaccompanied minors in the custody of the Office of Refugee and Resettlement prompted this poem. You can read the report here.
the shaking starts/ all of us/ even Francisco and he’s 11
months we’re here/
we’re here until they
are sick of us/ until we get used up
Disquiet Int'l Literary Program
"Kiss", from novel-in-progress FISSURES OF MEN
The whiteboy ran in as though he was late: dark hair, red-face, hot-blue eyes. He came at me like he had a knife.
I am a Jozi boy, so I was ready, my hands out. But he grabbed my shoulders and the kiss came: soft and damp, fear and toothpaste. And then he was gone.
I was a stone with a kiss frozen onto my mouth and the moment went on and on and the evening and the morning were the fourth day when god made the stars and set them in the sky to give light to the earth.
Rick De Marinis Short Story Contest 2018
Cutthroat Literary Magazine
Excerpt from: AIR DROP
The Smoke and Feathers VIP Lounge is at the back of the club and you can only get in with a lot of money and a password. She watches him watching her behind her gold and black mask. She leans her elbows against the bar. Watches him scan her body, the lean long muscles, the flat stomach. She reaches around for her drink so he can take in her high ass.
Here, he’s not a senator.
If another boat comes, like Ryker says, the captain will tell us, You know what those SAR80s are for, boys. I will be the first to shoot and the captain will be so proud of me that he will give me another special hat, like the last time. I shot two men. They tried to come on board. They had a small boat and they wanted our boat because it is bigger. The captain told them to go off. They wouldn’t listen and so he told us to fire. And I shot first. They fell backwards. One fell into the sea and got sucked under into the motor. It was a terrible noise and the motor broke. We had to paddle the boat to shore for repairs.
NOTE: You can order the anthology here!
She’s seen too many of them, the bonny boys, loud in the way that boys are because they are afraid of not being heard. When they throw their legs over furniture or kick a hole in the screen door what they mean is, I am here but I don’t know if I am here. They’re hit/ scolded/thrown out/called a shame to the family, and they land on the other side of the foot/belt/door.
There’s a whole tribe that come tromping through the forest in search of drugs or love or sympathy or who knows what kids want these days. She sees them, beating and blatting and tearing through the trees, the city ones that don’t know a bush from a bus.
NOVELS and COLLECTIONS
FISSURES OF MEN
FISSURES OF MEN is the sequel to THE GEOGRAPHY OF KITCHEN TABLES and follows Cebo’s journey after he is awarded a two-semester scholarship to Cal State Channel Islands. He moves from a South Africa that is still in turbulent recovery from apartheid, to a post-election turbulent America dealing with political and social issues that have exacerbated cultural and racial divisions. I'll be recording found sounds with single instruments to layer over some of the sections.
…on a plane.
That is not true because it starts in Johannesburg in a small, dark, sweaty room. Me, just as sweaty because I am standing in front of the sangoma. Without turning my head: smoke and strings of seed pods, beads, bones and long twisted strands of things that were once human. It is not wise to look closely in the sangoma’s house.
She sits in a green velvet armchair, her glasses strung around her neck on a strand of orange wool, a Glamor magazine close to her face. She holds out a palm. I move forward and hand over the MP3 player for her indlamu prayers and the Megadeth songs that she says help to clear her head.
TRIP WIRES, story collection
Leapfrog Press Fiction Award 2017
TRIP WIRES travels around the world, with stories, many in children's voices, set against turbulent socio-political backdrops from Afghanistan to Syria to Columbia to America. The terrain is different in each story, but all of these young people face the dilemma of being without resources even as they try to find and maintain relationships.
Click here to buy a copy.
Interview with Cassidy McCants, Nimrod International Journal here.
Interview with San Diego Writers Ink here.
Reading at E.P. Foster Library 5/30/2019 here.
Excerpt from "Against the Stranger":
Heartstop and careful finger off the trigger. I didn’t hear him. What’s wrong with me?
Skinny boy, yellow pants dragging in the dirt, head tilted far back to stare down his nose.
It’s one of those quiet deployments on the Afghanistan border. We’re on the outskirts of the outskirts. If we were any further on the outskirts we’d be pants.
One of those bombed-out towns just like you see in movies, except this one has three-leg goats that hobble and chew through the trash, and fat-tailed sheep with deep red furrows ploughed through their fleeces. Some of the little kids say nothing. Some of them shake. A lot of them shake. Their hands, their heads. One kid’s knee shakes like it’s a small flag.
SMALL CHANGE, fiction chapbook
Gold Line Press Competition 2016
Copies at my book store, below.
Audio preview here!
A boy crawls through a tunnel in the Gaza Strip to bring back supplies to his family and neighbors despite the high risk of the tunnel being flooded, gassed, or bombed. On the eve of the Arab Spring in Libya, a girl and her best friend disguise themselves as boys to train for a school sports competition, knowing that if they’re caught they will be severely punished. Four young girls, three of them pregnant, decide to escape their abusive husbands and attempt to cross from Morocco to Spain.
Set against these turbulent backdrops, the children’s voices, apolitical, remind the reader of the distilled best of human relationships. With no resources and armed with only loyalty, guts, and tenacity, they risk their lives for their friends.
THE GEOGRAPHY OF
Novel set in post-apartheid South Africa
Jan, Boer, and Motsumi, Zulu, marry in the heady post-apartheid days of Nelson Mandela's presidency. Despite their parents' objections, Jan and Motsumi settle into their life and have 2 kids, believing in a glowing, post-racial future. When Jan's promotion gives them the chance to move to a better neighborhood, they face considerable racial slurs and threats. A street gang attacks their nine-year-old daughter, Liseli, and the family begins to unravel. This story examines the roots of where we come from, and the astonishing strength, and capacity for love and forgiveness that children have.
I stepped over the leaking plastic bag, and wrenched the gate open. A short, bald, red-faced man, startled eyes, dry old mouth open, skittering backwards in his tackies. I reached back, grabbed the bag by the knot and turned back to see him disappearing down the alleyway by our house that lead to the backfield. I ran after him as he tried to sprint, his fake Nikes turned out, his old bowed legs struggling, waving both hands like he was trying to stop a bus. Finally he stopped and turned around, gasping, sweating,
I took two more strides and launched the stinking bag. Gaping astonishment as it split and splattered over shoes, pants, shirt.
--You—you fokken bitch—
--I have returned what is yours. Literally masimbakho. Your shit.
Arjun Kulkani brings his family to North West London, England, after Indian Independence. While he struggles to fit in, his family adapt almost seamlessly. When he is diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, he suffers a further loss of identity. Even as his body fails, Arjun gains more understanding of his youthful impatience, his careless cruelty to his family, and how to love even those he doesn’t like.
Sometimes Sunila goes to stand at the bottom of the garden pretending to tidy up the compost heap, and allows the forbidden thought to come: divorce. She can only whisper it. It’s a bad word. Bad people do it. But in the Women’s Own magazine at the doctor’s office, she read that Elizabeth Taylor had done it. She’d done it so many times that it was just part of her normal routine. Get up, put on face cream, divorce Richard. How daring it sounds, so chic.
Click here to buy a copy.
Collaboration with Lisa Sanders, fine artist
BIG--AS IN MAAAAASSIVE--NEWS!
THE GIRL AND THE SHEDDING FOX
The Girl and the Shedding Fox has been picked up for three exhibitions in 2019!
Prose-poetry and fine art
On the edge of the forest, the river, the village
The Girl watches and listens
She knows about the Shedding Fox
Who lives on the edge of the forest, the river, the village
And she tells no one
Because of the sharp dangerous edge of the word alone
I recorded the narrative with the amazing Paul Tavenner. I've also completed the first set of short videos of people wearing a Japanese fox mask that are part of the installation.
This is SO going to rock!
To contact me directly, please use the form below.
ECTV: El Camino High School and CAPS Media, Ventura
INTERVIEW WITH JESSICA LLAMAS
Leapfrog Press, June 2018
These stories follow young people and children as they struggle for survival in turbulent settings across the globe, from Afghanistan to Los Angeles.
Press: Nimrod International Journal interview with Cassidy McCants here.
Metaphorical prose is abundant, achieving a poetic quality while evoking profound emotions and creating lifelike characters. Racism, classism, and injustice are captured in ways that ignite justified feelings of rage. TRIP WIRES is a beautifully written collection, both poetic and melancholic.
Deeply moving in their confrontations of unimaginable tragedies, each story evokes a bold, emotional response.
--Kate Asher, Foreword Reviews
This is what life looks like when conflict repaints the canvas against which [the] characters seek love, family and a moment's stability. [Sandra Hunter's] keen eye for twinned details―the fleeting safety of an imam's lap is set against a prayer rug in the back room of a California suburban home, far from neighbors' eyes―lends this collection a rare power and poignancy. Not to be missed.
--David Rocklin, The Night Language
In spare and unflinching prose, the stories in TRIP WIRES depict children and young adults struggling to deal with the brutal consequences of war and social upheaval. I am deeply grateful to Sandra Hunter for the courageous and sympathetic way she tells these young people's tales.
--Jean Hegland, Into the Forest
Within this poignant collection, there’s a thread that compels her characters to reach for survival, and it’s this gossamer wire, these small miracles of love, that electrify her stories.
--Shilpa Argawal, Haunting Bombay
WHAT READERS ARE SAYING
Sandra Hunter writes with unflinching honesty and a profound love of humanity. Passionate and visceral, I found myself reading a line over and over tasting the power and stark poignancy of this collection ripping apart the wounds of injustice, racism, separation, the turbulence of human relationships and more.
Each short story of Trip Wires packs a huge emotional impact on the reader. There are themes of survival, humanity and loss of ordinary people caught in extraordinary circumstances. Ms. Hunter brings awareness to these real-life situations and encourages the reader to learn more.
Trip Wires by Sandra Hunter is excellent, empathetic, terrifying hard writing, and I was riveted by it. Each short story burns like a fuse headed straight toward explosives and I couldn't put it down. No lie, I missed out on a day of cycle commuting because I wanted to read on the metro instead of having to put down this gripping collection and take up my handle bars.
Gold Line Press, August 2016
SMALL CHANGE does what great fiction should do. Rather than strive for newness for the sake of novelty, or reinvent language to showcase the writer’s chops, it approaches language in a new way because the material—struggling for life and love in the Middle East—demands it. Fresh, invigorating, and profound, I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I did.
Fiction judge of the 2016 Gold Line Press Competition
Each of Hunter’s three stories does what stories should do, using small moments in time to touch larger themes. Here the touching, sometimes tactile, sometimes cerebral, sometimes brutal, sometimes beautiful, presses against the Middle East, a place where turmoil too often touches its people. SMALL CHANGE points to big change with quiet grace, touching hard places and hopeful places.
Author of BOTH MEMBERS OF THE CLUB, THE NUMBER OF THE MISSING, BELMONDO STYLE, and HEADLOCK. He teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and is editor of J Journal: New Writing on Justice.
October 22, 2016.
Interview with Camille Bradshaw of Gold Line Press
Interview with Natalie McNair of Speaking of Marvels:
Video of Why There Are Words May 11 2017, reading.
WHAT READERS ARE SAYING
I was so gripped and moved by those three stories, and they've continued to haunt me.
The voices are unique and yet hit me in my solar plexus. The topics are today's topics and written in a way that people can feel at one with the characters.
This is a 'small' book which could 'change' your understanding of childhood, as viewed from the perspective of children from other cultures who are facing adult challenges.
Losing Touch is a quiet novel about the Kulkani family. Originally from India, the family has emigrated to London and have settled into their new surroundings without much fuss. Well, except for the children's wishes to sever ties with India - they want to fit in and embrace British culture. Oh, and Arjun's wife, Sunila, who doesn't understand why women have to adhere to the husband's rules regarding money, housework, parenting, etc. - times are changing, women can manage their own monies and should be able to spend it on themselves (instead of giving all of their earnings to their husbands and getting in trouble if one pound is missing). As for Arjun, he just wants his family to remember where they came from and to mind him when he tells them what to do. Of course, life has other plans for Arjun and his family.agraph text here.
--A Bookish Way of Life
Review by Carve Magazine here.
Bios for re-use
Sandra Hunter’s stories have won the 2018 Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition, 2017 Leapfrog Press Fiction Award, 2016 Gold Line Press Chapbook Prize, and two Pushcart nominations. She is a 2018 Hawthornden Fellow and the 2017 Charlotte Sheedy Fellow at the MacDowell Colony. Books: TRIP WIRES, stories, fiction chapbook SMALL CHANGE, and debut novel, LOSING TOUCH.
Sandra Hunter’s fiction has won the 2018 Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition, 2017 Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest, 2016 Gold Line Press Chapbook Prize, October 2014 Africa Book Club Award, and two Pushcart Prize nominations. She is a 2018 Hawthornden Castle Fellow and the 2017 Charlotte Sheedy Fellow at the MacDowell Colony. Books: LOSING TOUCH, a novel (July 2014), fiction chapbook, SMALL CHANGE (June 2016), fiction collection TRIP WIRES (June 2018). She teaches English and Creative Writing at Moorpark College and runs writing workshops. Favorite dessert: Salted Caramel Insanity from Donut Friend.
Sandra Hunter’s fiction has won the 2018 Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition, 2017 Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest, 2016 Gold Line Press Chapbook Prize, October 2014 Africa Book Club Award, and two Pushcart Prize nominations. Her story "Fishers of Men" was included in the 2018 Write Well Award Anthology. Her story “Finger Popping” won second place in the 2017 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction. Her story collection TRIP WIRES was published in 2018, the chapbook SMALL CHANGE was published in 2016, and her debut novel LOSING TOUCH was published in 2014. She completed her second novel THE GEOGRAPHY OF KITCHEN TABLES set in post-apartheid South Africa, and is working on the sequel FISSURES OF MEN. She is a 2018 Hawthornden Castle Fellow and the 2017 Charlotte Sheedy Fellow at the MacDowell Colony. Sandra Hunter lives in Ventura, California where she teaches English and Creative Writing and runs writing workshops. Favorite dessert: Salted Caramel Insanity from Donut Friend.
Sandra Hunter’s short story collection, TRIP WIRES (2018) won the 2017 Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest. It presents voices of young girls and boys—some of them children—set against turbulent socio-political backdrops such as Afghanistan, Syria and Colombia. Her fiction chapbook, SMALL CHANGE (2016), won the 2016 Gold Line Press Chapbook Competition. The three stories, set in Palestine, Libya, and Morocco, are told in children’s voices. Her debut novel, LOSING TOUCH (2014), is about immigrant Indians settling into 1960s London and examines the double loss of identity through immigration and chronic disease.
Recent works include stories such as “Meanwhile the Forests Continue to Die”, winner of the 2018 Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition; "Fishers of Men" included in the 2018 Write Well Award Anthology; and “Finger Popping”, 2nd place, 2017 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction. She is a 2018 Hawthornden Castle Fellow and the 2017 Charlotte Sheedy Fellow at the MacDowell Colony.
Sandra has finished her second novel THE GEOGRAPHY OF KITCHEN TABLES set in post-apartheid South Africa. It follows the story of an interracial couple who marry in the rainbow glow of Nelson Mandela’s election. When their 9 year-old daughter, Liseli, is bottle-raped by a gang, the post-traumatic stress threatens to shatter the marriage. She is currently working on the sequel FISSURES OF MEN that follows one of the characters as he studies abroad in America.
She is also collaborating with sculptor Lisa Sanders on a fiction, video, and 3D art installation titled THE GIRL AND THE SHEDDING FOX that is now at the Durango Arts Center in Durango CO through June 2019, and at Yavapai College, AZ in October 2019.
Sandra runs writing workshops and gives readings and presentations. Favorite dessert: Salted Caramel Insanity from Donut Friend
Professional Memberships: PEN America, Association of Writers & Writing Programs, Hedgebrook Cedar Deep Giving Circle, Women's Writers Project, Women's National Book Association, American Association of University Woman.
Agent: Celia J. Taylor-Mobley, Writers House
WHAT I'M UP TO
This is the steam train in Durango, CO.
Work stuff: Thanks to Random Sample Review for publishing my experimental piece, "flowers for".
And I've just heard that I'll be going to The Writers Eyrie in Brooklyn, NY, for three precious weeks in Oct/Nov. I'm hoping to complete a significant chunk of FISSURES OF MEN.
Yum stuff: Vegan pancakes and blueberries for breakfast!
Random stuff: First bike ride after a month off (in the UK). Part of the bike path to Ventura was closed, so I followed the alternate bike route. I was feeling delighted that I found the trail again -- when I got a flat. It's been a while since I changed an inner tube. The joy of using CO2 cartridges. I felt ridiculously proud of myself for managing to actually make it work (after much sweating and swearing).
WHAT'S HAPPENING 2019
THE GIRL AND THE SHEDDING FOX INSTALLATION 2019
Date: June 7-29, 2019
Place: Durango Arts Center, 802 E 2nd Ave, Durango, CO 81301
Our opening was on June 7. This little fox cutie wanted to take the cape and mask home!
People interacted with the videos and selfie station (pictured above), enjoyed the paintings and sculptures, and listened to the narrative on the headsets. What an amazing welcome--we couldn't have asked for a better launch!
More pics here.
WORKSHOP: WRITING INTO CHARACTER
Date: Sept 14
Place: Malibu Civic Library, 23519 West Civic Center Way, Malibu
Does your main character stare out of the window, Juuling? Do they ignore your pleas to do something? Want to lever your way under that irritatingly cool exterior and find the boiling cauldron of emotion that will write your next chapters for you?
Our workshop will take you through a three-part exercise: an ice-breaker, a group exercise, and a guided meditation. You'll take away the tools to always access all your characters!
THE GIRL AND THE SHEDDING FOX INSTALLATION 2019
Date: Oct 18 - Nov 8 2019
Place: Verde Art Gallery, Yavapai College, Yavapai, AZ
The Girl and the Shedding Fox land in Yavapai! I'll be heading out to AZ, prior to the opening, to video students, faculty and staff wearing a Japanese fox mask. These vids will be part of the installation. Look out for pics!
Date: October 20-November 6
Place: Brooklyn, NY
Jazzed as all get out to be heading to this haven in Brooklyn to work on FISSURES OF MEN.
WE HAVE BLAST-OFF
INTRO TO POETRY WORKSHOP
Date: April 6, 2020
Place: 29901 Ladyface Ct, Agoura Hills, CA 91301
Fun workshop exploring how to start and develop a poem. Just add water! Kidding. No water will be hurt during this workshop. You'll learn how to generate a brand new piece--even if you've never written a poem before. All levels welcome.