Last night, surfers/storytellers – Melissa A. Volker, Byron Loker, Glen Thompson, Stephen Symons and Justin Fox – gathered at the Noordhoek Art Point Gallery to celebrate the sea in their work: poetry, academic writing and stories. It was an enchanting evening and the many people who attended went home with a smile on their lips. Thank you to Helen of Salon Hecate and the Gallery for making these special events happen!
A collection of gently used wetsuits, swimwear, reef booties, rash vests, boogie boards and towels was handed over to volunteers from the Roxy Davis Foundation, an NPO that provides surf therapy for children with disabilities.
Melissa Sussens (Slaughterhouse), Dawn Garisch (Breaking Milk) and Penny Haw (The Invincible Miss Cust) in conversation with Gail Gilbride (Cat Therapy) about women, creativity, the environment and science. Melissa is a vet and a poet, and her poetry is strongly influenced by the two roles she plays in her life. As is the writing of Dawn, who is a doctor and author. Penny’s stories feature remarkable women and illustrate her love for nature and animals. And Gail’s latest work of non-fiction is about a cat who helped her survive a frightening medical diagnosis. The work of these four writers speaks to the interconnectedness of nature, humans, animals, art and science.
DAWN GARISCH, a medical doctor and writer, has published poetry, novels, non-fiction and a children’s book. She has had a short play and a short film produced and has written for television. She won the 2007 DALRO prize for her poem “Blood Delta”. Her novels, Trespass and Breaking Milk, were shortlisted for the 2010 Commonwealth Prize for Fiction in Africa and the 2021 Sunday Times Fiction Prize respectively. She won the 2011 EU Sol Plaatjie Poetry Award for her poem “Miracle”. In 2013, her short story “What To Do About Ricky” won the Short.Sharp.Story competition. Her second poetry collection, Disturbance, was published in 2020. She is interested in trans-disciplinary work in science and art, and between different art forms and teaches life writing and creative method courses with the Life Righting Collective.
MELISSA SUSSENS is a queer veterinarian and poet. Her work has appeared in many publications, both locally and internationally. She placed 2nd in the 2020 New Contrast National Poetry Prize and was amongst the winners of the ClemenGold Writing Competition. She was selected for the Poetry for Human Rights anthology, Between the Silence, in 2021, and has been nominated for Best of the Net. Melissa has performed at the Poetry in McGregor festival, Off The Wall, The Commons and The Red Wheelbarrow, where she also hosts poetry readings. She lives in Cape Town with her wife and their two dogs. Slaughterhouse is her first book.
PENNY HAW worked as a journalist and columnist for more than three decades, writing for many leading South African newspapers (most notably, Business Day) and magazines before yielding to a lifelong yearning to create fiction. Her stories feature remarkable women, illustrate her love for nature and animals, and explore the interconnectedness of all living things. The Invincible Miss Cust is Penny’s debut historical fiction. It was published by Sourcebooks in 2022 and will be followed by a further work of historical fiction, The Woman at the Wheel, in October 2023. Penny is also the author of The Wilderness Between Us, a contemporary fiction published in 2021 and Nicko, The Tale of a Vervet Monkey on an African Farm (2017), a children’s book. Penny lives in Hout Bay with her husband and three dogs, all of whom are well-walked.
GAIL GILBRIDE was born in Pretoria. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rhodes University and a post-graduate teaching diploma from UCT. In a previous life she taught English, Sound Perception and Communication Skills. She also used to dance and mastering the Tango is still on her wish list. Her novel Under the African Sun was published by Cactus Rain in 2016, and it was selected as a top ten finalist in the Author Academy Awards competition (USA). Cat Therapy is her unplanned memoir. Gail lives on the edge of the Hemel en Aarde valley with her human and furry family, where she swims in the sea, writes, gardens and dabbles in painting.
Dear Cape Town,
You will not want to miss this!
We had such a great time launching the book in Johannesburg, and we hope to make the Cape Town launch just as special.
Mike will be in conversation with Penny Haw.
Can't wait! See you on the 15th!
June is World Ocean Month, and to celebrate the sea and beaches integral to South Peninsula life (and so beautifully represented on the walls of the gallery), Salon Hecate at the Noordhoek Art Point Gallery is presenting something different this coming month: surfer-poets. What better way to celebrate the sea than by hearing from those who spend their spare time in and on the waves? So we’ve invited some fabulous surfers, sailors, and stand-up paddlers who also happen to be published authors to come and read their poems and passages about the sea.
You’ll hear from surfer-poets Justin Fox, Byron Loker, Stephen Symons and Melissa Volker. There may be one or two more surprise performers (there are quite a few creative surfers – or should that be surfing creatives? – in the ‘hood). We’ll keep you updated.
Justin Fox travels (and writes about it) for a living. The former editor of Getaway Magazine, he has published over twenty books, ranging from fiction to photography to art to children’s books to poetry, but always returning to the ocean horizon. He still finds time to surf and sail.
Byron Loker is a freelance writer and filmmaker, with a Masters in Creative Writing from UCT. His prescribed collection of short stories, New Swell, explores the corners of our local neighbourhood and celebrates his love of surfing.
Stephen Symons is a poet, academic, historian, graphic designer, husband and father (not necessarily in that order), who has won national and international awards for his poems and published research. He writes about his many passions, including surfing and the sea.
Melissa (Missy) Volker is an author, beautician, SUP prizewinner and surfer, who takes pride in teaching her daughters to stand up for themselves in the backline. This from her publisher’s website: “Melissa found a way to obsess about surfing – by obsessing about writing about surfing! A mid-life blooming writer and water woman, Melissa’s delicious fiction blends ‘surf noir’ with ‘environmental romance suspense.’”
Newsflash: we’ve just heard that Glen Thompson, local surf historian who looks at “the role of black surfers and female surfers in shaping today’s wavescape” will be joining us too. Not to be missed!
Date and time
Please join us at the Noordhoek Art Point Gallery on 5 June, 5.30 for 6. Entrance is free, we’re always prepared for loadshedding, and there will be a glass of wine to warm you.
Surf Therapy collections
We’ll be collecting gently used wetsuits, swimwear, reef booties, rash vests, boogie boards and even towels on the night, so please look around for any gear you’re no longer using. These will be handed over to volunteers from the Roxy Davis Foundation, an NPO that provides surf therapy for children with disabilities. Read more about the inspiring work they do here: roxydavisfoundation.org/surf-therapy
Another highly successful Kingsmead Book Fair (KBF) is behind us. And we had so much literary fun! Joanne Hichens, Lester Walbrugh and I were on the same flight going up to Johannesburg. We all spoke at the festival – Lester and I about Elton Baatjies, and Joanne and I about Fluid: The Freedom to Be.
We ‘met’ Joy Watson and Lethokuhle Msimang at the airport on the bookshelves of Exclusive Books.
What is the best way of passing flight time? Reading, of course.
We joined Joy on the morning of the book fair and dived into the busy, amazing programme of this year’s KBF that had something to offer for EVERYONE.
Authors met up in the Green Room for refreshments and a bit of rest between the fascinating sessions.
Exclusive Books pop-up shop at the KBF. Two of our titles sold out at the book fair!
It was wonderful to meet Jarred Thompson and Lerato Moletsane in person – both contributed to Fluid: The Freedom to Be.
Thank you to the organisers of the book fair, to everyone who came to listen to us, to all who bought books and made the KBF 2023 such a joyous book fair. Already counting the days until KBF 2024!
St John’s College in Johannesburg is a magical place that looks like a dream setting for a novel or a film. The Weight of Shade is set in the Marico, but the novel’s author, Michael Boyd, teaches at St John’s, and the college generously offered to launch the book. The welcome we received at this 125-year-old institution was unforgettable.
The event was definitely one of the most memorable in the history of Karavan Press, and I cannot thank everyone who made it reality enough for their kindness and this incredible occasion.
Mike was in conversation with Frank Rumboll. The Rene England Auditorium was full of friends, family, colleagues, learners and other authors – Kurt Ellis, Lester Walbrugh and Craig Higginson among them. Thank you to the College and everyone who was present for their stunning support.
To all who bought a book, HAPPY READING! You are in for a magical treat.
This week, we had the great pleasure of welcoming Nick Mulgrew, currently based in Edinburgh, back in South Africa for the launch of his second novel, Tunnel. Nick visited Liberty Books and The Book Lounge to celebrate his latest offering with readers. Both events were truly special, and I cannot thank Christy Weyer and Alistair Mackay enough for their wonderful launch interviews. Warmest gratitude to the two fabulous bookshops that are homes to writers and readers alike. Also, a huge thank you to Michael Tymbios for designing, not only the stunning cover of Tunnel, but also the matching covers of Nick’s two short story collections, Stations and The First Law of Sadness, which we brought back into print at Karavan Press.
Here are a few visual impressions from the launches:
Liberty Books, 23 May
The Book Lounge, 24 May
Thank you to all readers/friends who joined us on these two occasions! Happy reading!
The Open Book Festival is running a workshop week between 5 and 10 June and two Karavan Press authors, Dawn Garisch and Melissa Sussens (together with her The Red Wheelbarrow colleague, Jacques Coetzee), are running a life writing workshop and a poetry workshop respectively. Please join them to hone your craft and be inspired!