Tributes to Anne Schuster (1947 – 2017)

15 Aug 2017

PEN SA member Anne Schuster sadly passed away on 12 June 2017. Dawn Garisch, Rahla Xenopoulos and Jade Gibson have written tributes to Anne, who was a writer and creative writing teacher:

Dawn Garisch:

I have always thought of Anne Schuster as the doyenne of creative writing teaching in South Africa. I went to a writing course of hers in 2002, and was inspired by her gentle, encouraging wisdom, and playful suggestions. Over many years she has helped hundreds of women to get in touch with their own creative flames and to share their stories within a rich and varied community of writers. When she fell ill about seven years ago, she asked me to take over running her memoir writing course, an act of huge generosity that has changed my life. After moving to Kleinmond, she continued to assist and inspire writers through running courses, and by bringing out a book about writing called To The Islands. Sadly we lost her to cancer last month. She is remembered by very many with gratitude and love. Her spirit will live on in many creative works.

Rahla Xenopoulos:

She’s so removed from my reality I can barely touch her, the insecure girl who trembled into the Centre of The Book and was greeted by one of life’s rare teachers, Anne Schuster… I wasn’t born to write, few of us are, you coaxed the words out of my heart and out of my unwilling, petrified pen. You gifted people’s pens with wings, wheels and life. Every word I’ve ever written came from the comfort of your wisdom so generously bestowed, again and again and again.
Nothing is the end, death itself is not an end.
As I find myself now, teaching in the warmth of your shadow and writing a book about souls reincarnating, I give thanks, though never enough, to god and to you, that my small life collided with the greatness of yours.
“Blessed is the match consumed in the kindling flame.
Blessed is the flame that burns in the heart’s secret places.
Blessed is the heart with the strength to stop it’s beating for honor’s sake.
Blessed is the match consumed in the kindling flame.” Hannah Sennesh…
Anne Schuster, I raise my pen to your magnificent flame.

Jade Gibson:

In tribute to Anne Schuster, writing tutor and mentor to so many, who passed away yesterday. This is the person who is responsible for pushing me to overcome my fears, to finally publish Glowfly Dance. She made writers of so many of us. All fledglings… we flew. I have never met anyone more inspiring and gifted, in the most modest way imaginable. A true angel on this earth. Those who have met her know this, and have all been encouraged to find something of themselves through writing. The main dream in my life was to write and publish my book. Anne was the one person who initially believed in its possibilities, and helped make the dream real. In a way, she gave me the life I had dreamed of. The magnitude of this is unfathomable. Her writing group fostered many friendships for me, and often support. Apart from that, Anne was just an overall lovely, warm, kind and generous person. She really was. Anyone who ever met her knows this. Her wide influence can never leave us.

A Poem for Anne

This alchemist of a woman
has turned silenced hearts
to liquid gold words
that have touched a hundred
lives, and thousands more,
who breathe the sparkling
life words give them.
This alchemist woman
has found immortality,
she can never be silenced,
speaking through so many
mouths, so many more hearts,
so many trails of shining
dazzling lights across
a world that needs voices.
Thank you for being
an alchemist of a woman
who has given words
to so many silences
and who will speak through
so many more to come,
thank you for the alchemy
of your golden eternal heart.

Jade Gibson 2017