Anne Schuster’s contribution to South African women writers

… A woman sits down to write. She sits down at the grey trestle table in the familiar room surrounded by other writing women. She notes the beautiful seriousness on all their faces – varied in age and occupation, committed to writing. She has left behind the dust, the dirt, the sticky pots and pans, the soiled linen. She feels the warmth that starts in her belly and slowly spreads throughout her body, and knows that it is time. She writes as they write, the women around her. They have carved out this little chunk of time. They feel, for these cherished moments, their real selves. She knows that, if she is blessed, she will carry the feeling off, out and home, like a secret rhythm …

~ an excerpt from A woman sits down to write published in 2003 by Women’s Writing Workshops.

Anne Schuster’s contribution to South African women writers

Among the publications Anne has been responsible for are:

Kilimanjaro on my Lap a collection of poetry by Epiphanie Mukasano, 2010.
Writing the Self: An anthology of new writing from Women’s Writing Workshops, 2008.
Living on the Fence: Poems by women who are refugees from various countries in Africa, 2007.
Women Flashing: A collection of flash fiction from Women’s Writing Workshops, 2006.
Journey to Myself: writings by women from prison in South Africa.  A collection of writing from a series of workshops with women in Pollsmoor Prison, 2004.
A woman sits down to write: Orts and Fragments from Women’s Writing Workshops, 2003.
In My Life: Youth stories and poems about HIV and AIDS.  A collection of writing from a series of workshops with youth from different communities in the Western Cape, 2003.
Remember Me? Stories from women who work on farms, a collection of stories and poems from a workshop designed and facilitated for Women on Farms Project, 2002.
Nelspoort ons lief en leed, a collection of writing from a workshop with 16 women from Nelspoort, for the Southern Cape Land Committee, 2001.  Book launched 2002.
Women Recall, a collection of women’s life stories produced from workshops co-facilitated (with Annemarie Hendrikz) for the Southern Cape Land Committee, 2000.
Piecing together the Past, a collection of writing from a workshop held at the District Six Museum, August 2000.

My greatest satisfaction when I look back at my work over the last 12 years is to know that I enabled this “community of women writers” (as Ingrid de Kok once described it). ~ Anne Schuster

Some members, past and present of Anne’s groups are:

Anne Woodborne (with Basil Appollis), Silence of the Music, premiered at the Baxter Theatre, September, 2010.
Beth Hunt, Hermanus (Penstock Publishing, Hemel en See Boeke/Books).
Christine Coates (with Stephen Malherbe), Living with my X, (Random House/Struik).
Colleen Higgs, halfborn woman (Hands-On Books), founder of Modjaji Books.
Consuelo Roland, The Good Cemetery Guide (Double Storey Books), short-listed for Sunday Times Fiction Prize; Honorable Mention Olive Schreiner Prize for Prose.
Gail Gilbride Bohle, The Web of Silence (Online at Crink).
Epiphanie Mukasano, Kilimanjaro on my Lap (Dakini).
Helen Douglas, Love and Arms: On violence and justification after Levinas (Trivium Publications).
Hester van der Walt, Hester se Brood (Modjaji Books).
Jean, Behind the Curtain: Jean’s Journey to Sobriety (Human and Rousseau), long-listed for the Alan Paton Award for non-fiction.
Joanne Fedler, When Hungry, Eat; Things Without A Name; Secret Mother’s Business; The Dreamcloth (Jacana and Allen and Unwin).
Joanne Hichens (with Mike Nichols), Out to Score (Random House / Struik); (Ed) Bad Company (Macmillan); (Ed) The Bed Book of Short Stories (Modjaji Books).
Karen Brooks, Emily and the Battle of the Veil and Emily and the Sprites of Light (Self published).
Karen Cochlovius, Desert Varnish (Kwela).
Karin Schimke and Margie Orford, Fabulously 40 and Beyond – Women Coming Into Their Own (Spearhead Press).
Kiki Theo, Money Well, Money Alchemy, Wealth Journey (Penguin).
Lynne Carneson McGregor, Red in the Rainbow (Random House / Struik).
Margaret Legum, Learning to saunter (Kalk and Cheese Press).
Margie Orford, Daddy’s Girl and subsequent Clare Hart thrillers (Jonathan Ball)
Mary Monaghan, Remember Me; Who Do You Belong To? (Self published).
Melissa Steyn and Mikki van Zyl, (Eds), The Prize & The Price: Shaping Sexualities in South Africa (HSRC Press).
Pregs Govender, Love and Courage: A Story of Insubordination (Jacana), long-listed for the Alan Paton Award for non-fiction.
Rahla Xenopoulos, A Memoir of Love and Madness: Living with bipolar disorder (Zebra).
Ruth Carneson, finalist for Penguin Prize for African Writing.
Shaida Ali, Not a Fairy Tale (Random House / Struik).
Tracy Farren, Whiplash (Modjaji), short-listed for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize.
Willemien De Villiers, Kitchen Casualties; Angel in the Tree House (Jacana).

And to prove that Anne walks the walk:
Anne Schuster, Foolish Delusions (Jacana), translated into German and published by Kalliope.

Many monthlies have been published in poetry collections, literary journals and short story anthologies and have won writing competitions. Among them are:

Anne Woodborne, Avis MacIntyre, Beth Hunt, Chantal Stewart, Christine Coates, Colleen Higgs, Consuelo Roland, Epiphanie Mukasano, Erika Coetzee, Helen Douglas, Irene Zeelie, Joanne Fedler, Joanne Hichens ,Karin Schimke, Loubna Freih, Maire Fisher, Margie Orford, Mish Damstra, Nella Freund, Rahla Xenopoulos, Susan Ziehl, Tanya Chan-Sam, Tracey Farren, Wilhelmien de Villers and  – of course – Anne Schuster herself.

If names have been omitted from both of these lists, please forgive us. The intention was not to exclude anyone, but rather to show, with the information we had available (mainly from the Monthlies Blog ) how many women have been inspired by Anne as a writing teacher.  If you know of others who should be added to this list, please let me know and I’ll add them immediately.

When discussing her workshops, Anne had this to say:

I’m often amazed that people don’t realise or recognise the power of women’s creative spaces.  They think the fact that I make it a women’s only space is just an odd quirk of mine, and the fact that The Monthlies has grown from a handful of women when I started Women’s Writing Workshops in 1999 to the splendid number of 100-plus women at the last workshop, is some strange, unexplained phenomenon.

‘Strange, unexplained’ … and also highly creative and productive!

Thank you, Anne!