Radio National's Bookshow first announced, and a story has just been aired on ABC Radio's The World Today Show - Dorothy Porter died from breast cancer this morning.
A profound loss to the Australian literary community, and to the cause of poetry the world over, Dorothy was one of those women that, if you were lucky enough to hear her speak, made you profoundly jealous of anybody fortunate enough to have been a student of hers.
I'm particularly feeling the loss as I recently spent some very happy time re-visiting Dorothy's work as I considered my answers to an article for the upcoming Deadly Pleasures magazine (and I hope in the circumstances George will forgive me pre-empting one of my answers to his fine questions a little). The article included the question:
5. A surprise: a mystery/crime novel you didn’t expect to like, but wound up liking a lot. And/or, a guilty pleasure: a mystery/crime novel by an author whose work you usually don’t care for, or whose work is looked down upon by many mystery super fans (think James Patterson or Patricia Cornwell) – or a novel in a sub-genre that you don’t usually like, e.g. cozies.
My answer finished thus:
But book that has surprised me to the point of speechlessness (and that's not easy) was EL DORADO by Dorothy Porter (Pan Macmillan Australia ISBN: 978-0-3304-2304-5). Crime fiction in verse. Who would have thought that you could do it firstly, and that you could do it so astoundingly well. Not only did I love this book, after seeing Dorothy speak at a local crime fiction festival, my partner read the book as well. He doesn't read much crime fiction (prefers Science Fiction) and he was also astounded by the sheer beauty and quality of the writing in this book. Undoubtedly Dorothy Porter is a hero in this household.
Not only did she write some very fine poetry (both as verse novels and in pure form), she was one of the most passionate advocates for poetry and for the enthusiastic and impassioned teaching of poetry.
I can't imagine the loss her family and friends must be feeling at the moment. We were lucky enough to have experienced Dorothy's wit and wisdom mostly from afar and to us she truly was a hero.