Tony Voss The Mushroom Summer of Skipper Darling.jpg

Tony Voss

May 2019
130mm x 200mm
ISBN: 978-0-620-83127-7



Come out of the thunderous afternoon
into the cupboard under the stairs;
avoid the clubs and spears, silent
sentinels at the door, and move among
these trunks and lamps and photographs
into the still life of things, where I
am searching for our past. Things
grow out of this darkness: in the cool
deep reaches we may find statues,
lilies, icons, and the encroaching earth.


The debut collection from one of Southern Africa’s most astute critics of poetry, born in 1935, is a treasure. A collection that accomplishes that rare thing in poetry: of being an immediate pleasure even as it demands re-reading and slow contemplation. With classical form and meter meeting modern sensibility and local image, The Mushroom Summer of Skipper Darling fills
a gaping absence in South African letters, and will kickstart an appreciation anew of a strong, steady and significant influence on this country’s literature.

“I have tried to write poetry ever since I can remember,” says the author, “with varying degrees of success, having published poems intermittently over the years. As an academic I found that the critical faculty sometimes interfered with the creative in both the writing of my own poetry and the appreciation of others’. In retirement, the critical and the creative seem to have become more cooperative.

“A poem can come from anywhere, but more often than not these days it will spring out of, give admission to and offer a release from, memory. Quite often a poem turns out to be my half of a conversation, and I can only hope that my imagination admits the reader to a realm where words mean what they say. While understanding may not come at once, a poet hopes to offer enough to catch and hold the reader on first reading.”

Tony Voss was born in Swakopmund in 1935. He was educated at St George’s Grammar School, Cape Town; Rhodes University, Grahamstown; and the University of Washington, Seattle. His interests were formed by his southern African upbringing, his parents’ faith, and imagination – from songs of the First World War and swing, to Yeats’s Oxford Book of Modern Verse.

“Like most Southern Africans,” he says, “I grew up in a multilingual community and I appreciate, enjoy and admire other languages, as they have been instrumental in my developing a sense of the social answerability of any human activity.”

He taught English in universities until he retired from the service of the then University of Natal in 1995. The Mushroom Summer of Skipper Darling is his first book.