Operation Oysterhood: 15 October

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.

— @HaggardHawks

Academic, publisher, writer, Ampie Coetzee, passed away earlier today at the age of eighty-one. He was one of André’s dear friends and I spent many enlightening and entertaining hours in his company. I loved the way he always spoke his mind and did not take any nonsense from anybody. Another great of Afrikaans letters is no longer among us. His insights, words, generosity of spirit will remain in many people’s memories. But it is a small consolation when the heart is sore with yet another loss. This year has taken so much. I think of Ampie’s loved ones and tears roll down my cheeks … Rus in vrede, Ampie!

One of Ampie’s literary ventures was the legendary, courageous publishing house, Taurus. Together with John Miles and Ernst Lindenberg, the first book Ampie published under the imprint was Oomblik in die wind (1975, An Instant in the Wind). And they knew that the censor would be watching … The rest is history, as they say.

What I am attempting with Karavan Press is nowhere near as brave or challenging, but I travel in these footsteps, inspired by people like Ampie, André and the friends with whom they went ‘stealing literary horses’.

Strangely fittingly, together with designer/typesetter, Monique Cleghorn, and author, Joanne Hichens, I visited our printer today to discuss book proofs and the finishing touches of covers. Returning home, I held the new book proofs with the already published Karavan Press books in my hands and knew that I was holding dreams transformed into reality. I still don’t know whether Karavan Press has a long-term future. Understandably, book buying is not on many people’s minds right now. But I refuse to give up and will forge ahead and continue dreaming as long as I possibly can.

I was also at Clarke’s Bookshop today to pick up a review copy of a very special book and I ordered a poetry book from them, which I had hoped would have arrived by now, but is still on its way. I also delivered the proofs of another book to the author, who wrote to me afterwards: ‘I am delighted with my book.’ It will be ready for distribution in early November. I am making the official announcement tomorrow. Karavan Press’s first poetry title. First of many – the next one is already in the making. I am thrilled!

I continue dreaming. And cherishing the people who paved the way before me.

‘Ancient paths. New literary journeys …’

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”


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