On 27 December one of the nicest people I’ve known left his corporeal body (we lost his beautiful mind and heart a while back, thanks to the cruel claws of dementia).

Gus Ferguson, you were a pure soul, and I purely loved you. You almost single-handedly created a body of southern African poetry over decades through your various creaturely imprints (Snailpress and more) and your wonderful poetry journal, Carapace. But this formidable legacy pales in comparison with your extraordinary generosity, your sincere and energetic championing of writers – especially us skittish creatures, poets.

You were kind, kind, kind, without ever being sugary. You were the first professional poetry person to read the messy assemblage that would become my debut poetry collection, Strange Fruit. You wrote me an enthusiastic email about how you’d read it on the train, and told me I had a publishable collection. And you were the first person to print a poem by me, a rude one about a penis, in Carapace, and you were as excited about this event as I was, if a lot less nervous. I dedicated Strange Fruit to you – obviously – and I remember how surprised…

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