11 December 2009

A mind like a museum, a manner like a friend

One Saturday morning fairly recently, Willem Boshoff stood in the hot sun outside the new part of the Everard Read gallery, talking to a group of attentive-looking people. He mentioned ullage (the amount by which a container falls short of being full) and a Greek poet whose work he felt is instrumental in modern poetry - Constantine Cavafi (or Cavafy). How, on his death bed, the man's last words weren't words but a drawing of a circle with a dot in the centre. The great navel. How he (Boshoff) could not let that image go unrepresented, an urge he (presumably) satisfied in granite.

A few years ago I attended a poetry workshop with Boshoff. In one of the activities, we had to invent the title or first line of a poem and write it down on a scrap of paper. He collected the scraps in a bowl, which we passed around and from which we each fished out a scrap. We had to elaborate on the line in a poem of our own and read it out a few minutes later. My line was this:

When I was nine years old ...

and my poem was this:

I had a pony.
Rust red coat,
growing thick and woolly in winter.
Round brown eyes;
hard little hooves.
Greedy flower-eater.

(Illustration by Nina Aleksander Ristić)

Afterwards, I introduced myself to Boshoff. His huge hand enclosed mine. A warm and friendly touch for a stranger; kind eyes and focused attention. As his creative output shows, he has so much going on in his head, it's mind-boggling simply to witness - as is perhaps the same for him, in a different way.

1 comment:

  1. Such a perfect illustration for a lovely story.