Jan McKemmish, writer and academic                                           1950 - 2007

Only four weeks after becoming ill with cancer, my friend of thirty-one years and my co-writer of various performance texts,
Jan McKemmish, died at the Freemasons' Hospital in East Melbourne on the evening of Xmas Eve. My partner Jane and
I deeply mourn her death.

(poster by jan mackay)

A Community of the Spirit

There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street,
and being the noise.

Drink all your passion,
And be a disgrace.

Close both eyes
To see with the other eye.

Open your hands,
If you want to be held.

Sit down in this circle.

Quit acting like a wolf, and feel
the shepherd’s love filling you.

At night your beloved wanders.
Don’t accept consolations.

Close your mouth against food.
Taste the lover’s mouth in yours.


Be empty of worrying.
Think of who created thought!

Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?

Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.

Flow down and down in always
widening rings of being.

Michael Hurley read these selections from Rumi’s poems at Jan’s funeral
in Richmond, Melbourne on Saturday 29th December.

Jan McKemmish, Redfern, Sydney in the mid 1980s
(fotos by Margot Nash)


Lyle Daggett said...

Just coming by and reading, and found this. Jan McKemmish sounds like a remarkable person. Awfully sorry, Pam.

Anonymous said...

I am very sad to hear of Jan's death, and am finding it hard to believe.

I met her when studying for an MA in creative writing at UQ in the 1990s. She was a fine supervisor, intelligent, perceptive, witty, and blunt just when you needed it.

My thoughts are with all who knew and loved her. We shall miss her greatly.

fantales said...

I studied under her supervision as well and benefited greatly. She was willing to take a risk, enjoyed the risks, taught me courage and when all else fails, imagination. I won’t forget. Condolences to Helen and their family.

pb said...

Thanks very much for your comments.
They are appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I'm another student of Jan's from the early days of the MA at UQ. I'm having trouble comprehending this news and -for a writer! - articulating my feelings. I can say that the novel I wrote under her extraordinary tutelage would not have been published without her. She was amazing. I'm so, so sorry Pam, and Helen, and your family.

Anonymous said...

This is a shock
I am stunned and sad to find out about Jan's death, now 15 months ago. I was a student of Jan's in the first intake of the UQ MA, just trying to find her email address on the web. She was a fabulous teacher who had to support way too many students - which she did with great skill and grace. Pam your photographs capture the Jan I remember perfectly. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I did not know Jan, but I read a Gap in the Records years ago, it is still one of my all time favourite books. I was online trying to search out a copy when I came across the very sad news that she had died two years ago and I feel greatly saddened, I can't imagine what a loss it must be to those who knew her and loved her.

Anonymous said...

I found this sad announcement while looking on the internet for more information about Jan.
I'm just re-reading Only Lawyers Dancing because I mentioned it today in a post about fictional female lawyers, and was inspired to pick it up again. I read A Gap in the Records when it came out and loved it, so of course I bought the second one and loved that too. It's just as much fun the second time around and not a lot has changed in the milieu depicted. Lovely books, thank you for these, Jan McKemiish.