Interview with writer Fred Johnston

Article by Kate Dempsey © 8 September 2013. Posted in Guest Blogs ().

 Fred Johnston has such a long writing CV, I can only summarise it here. He was born and educated in Belfast. He has lived in Toronto, Canada, Spain and Africa. ‘Orangeman’, a collection of stories in French, translated by film-maker and writer and good friend, Christian le Braz, appeared from Terre de Brume (France) in October 2010 and has just published a second volume of short stories, ‘Dancing In The Asylum,’ from Parthian Books (UK) Among his poetry achievements are Founder of Galway’s annual international literature festival, CÚIRT, in 1986. Writer-in-Residence to the Princess Grace Irish Library at Monaco, 2004. He is the Founder of the Western Writers’ Centre – Ionad Scríbhneoiri Chaitlín Maude – based in Galway (

Hello Fred and welcome to You’ve had such a long writing life so far, I’m not sure where to start. But I’ll start at the beginning. How did you first get interested in poetry? 

I was writing poetry very early on, at about the same time that I began to write short stories. I wanted only to be a short story writer, as it transpires. Steinbeck influenced me, and James Baldwin and later the French writers. Dear me, but I toted things up the other day, and it is forty-two years since I published my first short story! Poetry was always dear to me in so much as, writing songs, which I also did from an early age, I believed in the measured potency of words. I also believed – and it was in the air then too – that poetry had a social and political importance; certainly, that poets had or should have. Not many Irish contemporary poets want to hear that now, sadly. Read more…

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