Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day 2004

Frame fans gather for memorial service

Saturday Feb 14, 2004
New Zealand Herald

Around 1,000 people have turned out on a drizzly Dunedin day to pay their respects to the late Janet Frame.

The public memorial service was held at the Dunedin Town Hall for the world-renowned author, who died from cancer last month aged 79.

The service, A Tribute to the Life and Work of Janet Frame, was planned partly by Frame.

Frame chose the hymn Praise My Soul the King of Heaven, and it was to be performed today by the City of Dunedin Choir and accompanied on the Dunedin Town Hall organ by organist Kemp English.

Close friend, writer and widow of James K Baxter, Jacquie Baxter, was to read from Frame's autobiography, and nephew Neil Gordon was to speak for the family.

Others expected to speak at the service were Governor-General Silvia Cartwright and authors CK Stead and Michael King.

A sound recording of Frame reading an unpublished poem Friends Far Away Die, was to be played.

Dunedin City Council spokesman Rodney Bryant says it was a moving service.

He says several literary figures gathered along with other dignitaries, including Prime Minister Helen Clark and Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright, for a wonderful tribute to her life.

Before the service Prime Minister Helen Clark said she was looking forward to honouring Frame's memory .

"I think it will be a celebration of Janet Frame's extraordinary life and talent, a time to remind ourselves as a country of the great writing she produced over a very long period of time, which helped define New Zealand literature," she told National Radio.

From the Reuters/TV NZ/Radio NZ Obituary:

Historian Michael King, who wrote Frame's biography Wrestling with the Angel, says she leaves behind a significant legacy and her books will be read for many more decades, if not centuries. "She faced death absolutely courageously."

Prime Minister Helen Clark says Janet Frame was a special person who made an immense contribution to New Zealand literature. "While her humility was renowned, she was a most engaging personality with a wickedly funny sense of humour and a generosity of spirit," Clark says.

"Janet is without doubt New Zealand's best known novelist internationally and she wrote about New Zealand in an era which is fast disappearing. She's had huge international recognition for her work, she's been a wonderful New Zealander."

Australian writer and Booker Prize Winner Thomas Keneally offered his condolences to New Zealand for the loss of Janet Frame. Keneally says Frame is known to millions of readers around the world because her writing had universal appeal.

Victoria University senior lecturer in English Paul Millar says Frame will be remembered as a writer who defined 20th century writing. "She's almost emblematic of the 20th century the way she developed, survived it and...lived with her mind intact to write about it."

Frame herself always remained somewhat of an enigma and public appearances by her were rare.

But those who knew her say she was relaxed away from the public eye.

Writer and poet CK Stead, who was a close friend of Frame's says she heralded a new era in literature in New Zealand. "She was funny and witty and very charming and great company," he says.

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