1 June 2004

Vale Lionel Abrahams, South African writer extraordinaire

I cannot bear to write these words ...
Lionel Abrahams has died.

Lionel is featured in volume Six of The Write Stuff, at http://www.the-write-stuff.com.au/archives/vol-6/ where you'll find a selection from his forthcoming poetry collection, Chaos Theory of the Heart (accepted for publication by Jacana Press). At the time of his death, Lionel and his wife Jane Fox had recently completed a book of interviews with artist/dramatist Barney Simon, also to be published by Jacana Press.
Lionel died peacefully on Monday after only a day in hospital: he had been suffering from a heart condition for the previous two weeks.
Nobel prizewinner Nadine Gordimer comments:
"Lionel was a unique personality and we will never see his like again".
'The Star' newspaper, 2 June 2004 reads in part:

His exceptional ability to inspire writers and to nurture their creativity encouraged a large following in his writers' workshop, where he practised his gift for teaching.
He edited The Purple Renoster, the first issue of his own small literary magazine in 1957, and by 1972 had published 11 issues. Abrahams published six other literary journals, including Sesame.
In 1971, with Eva and Robert Royston, he launched Renoster Books. Under this imprint, he published two debut poetry collections that were expected to yield an African renaissance: Oswald Mtshali's Sounds of a Cowhide Drum and Mongane Wally Serote's Yakhal'Inkomo.
Abrahams was awarded two honorary doctorates and the medal of the Academy of South Africa.
With Patrick Cullinan, Abrahams founded Bateleur Press. He co-edited South African Writing, which was published by Penguin in the 1960s, with Nadine Gordimer.

The Mail and Guardian's report on Lionel made use of material on Tasmania-based web site, The Write Stuff in its tribute to the 76-year-old poet, novelist, critic, essayist and publisher.

No comments: