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Sunday, 29 June 2014

Jory Sherman, R.I.P.

‘Since 1965, the phenomenal Jory Sherman has published over 400 novels and 500 short stories and is currently writing books in several western series for Signet and Berkley.’ – Write a Western in 30 Days, p8 (2013).

Jory Sherman has died after valiantly fighting many ill health issues for well over a year. He was a writer through and through. Earlier, even when his eyesight was failing, he continued to write, embracing the new technology and utilising large print on his computer and, despite pain, communicating with fans, friends and social media contacts.

He was not only a writer, a poet and an artist (his paintings graced some of his later reprinted e-books), but he was more importantly a generous and kind man. I was in contact with him only fleetingly through a couple of writing groups. But I gleaned the kind of man he was from the many anecdotes and comments from fellow writers as the seriousness of his latest illness became common knowledge.

Jory was born 1932 (possibly, according to a scant Wikipedia entry) and began his literary career as a poet in San Francisco in the late 1950s, in the midst of the Beat Generation. His poetry and short stories were widely published in literary journals at that time. He won awards for his poetry and prose and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Letters for his novel Grass Kingdom. He won a coveted Spur Award from the Western Writers of America for The Medicine Horn.

In 1995 Jory was inducted into the National Writer’s Hall of Fame.

Throughout his career, he conducted writing workshops and was always happy to offer advice to budding authors. His writing guides are definitely worth studying, no matter how much writing experience you have under your belt. Indeed, it’s impossible to measure how many writers of today owe something to Jory’s tutelage, advice, friendship or, simply, his poetry and prose (they have to be grouped together, as his prose was often poetic).

In 2012, he received the Western Fictioneers Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2013 he was the recipient of the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Contributions to Western Literature.  

A couple of days ago, one of his friends announced via Facebook that Jory had asked to leave hospital, no longer wanting to undergo the painful procedures. He wanted to see his last sunsets from his home, with his family. I truly hope his last sunset was a splendid one that would appeal to the artist and poet in him. Truth is, the sun won’t set on his work; it and he will live on through his prodigious output of writing and through the many friends and acquaintances he touched.
Rest in peace, Jory.

My condolences to his bereaved family and many friends.


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