My friend and colleague Anna Craft has died.
She was famous -if that is the right word- as a researcher and leading thinker about creativity in education. But to me she was Anna.
She was kind, generous and encouraging. Her first words to me were about my work -my poetry, I mean. She seemed to think it just as important as that other, paid work, which was the context in which I got to know her. This alone made her special.
I found myself swallowing the words I had promised never to use when I heard of her diagnosis of cancer last December: ‘I am so sorry…if there is anything I can do…’
Instead I made her soup. Chicken and almond. Sweet potato and pear. Sometimes she could not come to the door, sometimes she could. And if she did, there was always conversation, a cup of tea, and endless questions, always about me and my family, whom she did not even know.
We are saying goodbye to her later today at a ceremony in a field in Devon. These are the words I would like to remember her by, in grateful thanks to have known her and to have been numbered among her friends.
The good are vulnerable
As any bird in flight,
They do not think of safety,
Are blind to possible extinction
And when most vulnerable
Are most themselves.
The good are real as the sun,
Are best perceived through clouds
Of casual corruption
That cannot kill the luminous sufficiency
That shines on city, sea and wilderness,
One man to another,
Who yet will not accept
Responsibilities of light.
The good incline to praise,
To have the knack of seeing that
The best is not destroyed
Although forever threatened.
The good go naked in all weathers,
And by their nakedness rebuke
The small protective sanities
That hide men from themselves.
The good are difficult to see
Though open, rare, destructible;
Always, they retain a kind of youth,
The vulnerable grace
Of any bird in flight,
Content to be itself,
Accomplished master and potential victim,
Accepting what the earth or sky intends.
I think that I know one or two
Among my friends.
Anna Craft, 1961-2014
This is uplifting as well as sad. The good and generous should always be treasured like this – it counterbalances or at least compensates for all the self-seeking, greed and atrocities of other human beings – that there are human beings who are compassionate and giving.
I hope I shall meet you when I come to Uncut Poets on October 30th.
With very best wishes, Myra
Great to hear from you. I am so pleased to see you are heading to Ex. Brilliant news.
As ever with best wishes
Dear Anthony – I am devastated to hear of Anna’s passing in August last year. Anna had been so encouraging of my work as an artist and early career researcher – and like many I was awed by her generosity, energy and vision. We met on three occasions, in Brisbane and at Exeter – and on each Anna dazzled: she was one of those bright stars who seem to have all the gifts and who soar high early – touched by brilliance, and in turn sharing that magic with others. I was going to contact Anna today to ask her advice on publishing…and found to my total shock and dismay that the world had lost a wonderful young woman. So saddened, and feeling that there is a great gap in the world. I am glad that I met Anna – she was dazzling, and she took the time to advise and encourage me and many others. What a loss. Sending belated wishes for the comfort to her family – and to the many who loved her, admired her and learned from Anna Craft.
Dear Janice, Thank you for your kind comment and honesty. Anna’s death continues to be a source of great sadness. We are working hard to commemorate her in the most creative and appropriate ways possible here at the university. She was dazzling indeed. I will pass on your wishes, As ever with thanks, Anthony