Mvelo Dhlamini/ Lashona iLanga / Olivia Rose Walton / No Water / Sean O’Toole / The Object / Kiprop Kimutai / A River Runs Through Soweto
Haafizah Bhamjee / To The Women Who Cook / vangile gantsho / spit and gravy / Pei Koroye / two poems / Roxanne Rose / Phosphorous Mouth / Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto / Every Night Mother Would Sit Me Down/
Hedley Twidle / Monsoon Raag / Anna Hartford / The Guru Has Protected This Home/ Blessing Nemadziva / It is a terrible thing / Kelly Smith / Uncloaked / Andre Sales / The Golden Goose / Phil Kramer / Mid-Century Cocktail: The Grasshopper
Su Opperman / The Death of the One is the Life of the Other/
There is a part in a Chet Baker song that for years I believed had him half-saying half-singing “I’m so sad.” But I could never find it; I thought I had dreamt it. Then, as I started writing this final editorial for Prufrock, I realised that in fact what he sings is “I’m so blue.”
It has been five years and fifteen issues since James King, Anneke Rautenbach, Nick Mulgrew and I started Prufrock. James and Anneke have since left, Nick has left and returned, and between those things we have welcomed and farewelled Oscar Masinyana, Rosie Mudge, and two interns named Chris: McArthur and Vlavianos. Prufrock as it greets you now is as the album notes attest: Simone Haysom on the nonfiction, Genna Gardini on the poetry, Nick on fiction and design (and what a design it is!), and me. I would like to say a hugely admiring thank you to each of them.
Hedley Twidle, in his piece for this issue, on the sounds of south India and Sri Lanka, quotes the diary of a man named John Hull, on rain: “Instead of an intermittent and thus fragmented world, the steadily falling rain creates continuity of acoustic experience.” This description strikes me as something a magazine, in its small way, tries to do to by framing and contrasting various writers and forms.
Then again, there have been moments in the past years that have been more like Mvelo Dhlamini’s first piece for this magazine: Meet the Buffoons. We made Prufrock up as we went along, and we could not have continued in our buffoonery if it wasn’t for the support of several wise, altogether more sensible people than us. I’m thinking especially of the bookstores: the Book Lounge, Clarke’s, Love Books and Exclusives, who stocked and displayed us, hosted us and did so much more. Our distributor Xavier Nagel took on a small client and treated it with nothing but patience and good humour. Our funders: the Miles Morland Foundation, the Arts and Culture Trust, Nedbank, Thundafund (and all of those who contributed to their match-funded crowdfunding campaign), and our advertisers: from the University of Cape Town to Feat, a company that makes fancy socks. Darrel Bristow Bovey, James Clarke and the BooksLive team wrote lovely things about the magazine when it started, and looking back at their words has helped us through the years.
And Prufrock’s writers, of course, put their faith in us to take care of their work. We met buffoonery here on occasion, too – I’m thinking, especially, of when we printed Matthew Freemantle’s story ‘Porn’ under his brother’s name on our cover. But mostly, I hope, we did a good enough job. Testament to this might be that so many writers came back: Phil Kramer, Andre Sales, Genna Gardini, Rosa Lyster, Oscar Masinyana and Liam Kruger wrote for several issues. This issue sees the return of Mvelo Dhlamini (Lashona iLanga), Olivia Walton (No Water), Blessing Nemadziva (It is a terrible thing), Sean O’Toole (The Object) and Anna Hartford (The Guru Has Protected This House), in addition to Hedley (Monsoon Raag). Phil’s final cocktail recipe is for The Grasshopper (“How do you finish things off and put a neat little bow on it all?”, he asks) and Andre’s for a foolproof dinner party. In it, he writes about the Great Hostesses of History, among whom he is obviously counting us.
In fiction this issue we also host, for the first time, Kiprop Kimutai, with ‘A river runs through Soweto’; in non-fiction, Kelly Smith with ‘Uncloaked’. Prufrock 15’s poets are all new to the magazine: Haafizah Bhamjee (To The Women Who Cook), vangile gantsho (spit and gravy), Pei Koroye (Two poems), and Roxanne Rose (Phosphorous Mouth) and Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto (Every Night Mother Would Sit Me Down). The issue is beautifully illustrated by Nompilo Sibisi.
I have two favourite quotes from Prufrock’s stories. They have stuck with me partly because they exemplify what the magazine has meant to me. In her piece ‘The Saffas’, about working in London for Issue 12 (Nostalgia), Anna Hartford wrote, “In most photos from the time I am a little bit pink and chubby. My hair is dyed box yellow, with its mousy roots growing out, my clothes are too tight, and my pants are too low. I almost can’t recognize myself: I look that happy.” The second is from Mvelo Dhlamini’s second piece for the magazine, ‘The Matter of Being’ for Issue 11: “A corner of a hardcover book bashing your temple at a high speed isn’t a joke—but it is funny nonetheless”.
Above all, what we wanted from Prufrock for readers was something that was enjoyable. I hope we have achieved that. We will miss putting this magazine together, and all that comes with it. We hope that you will miss reading Prufrock, too – maybe even enough to start your own literary magazine.
“I’m so blue,” Chet Baker sings, “She was too good to be true.” I can’t believe these last five years were real. From all of us: thank you for making Prufrock possible.