After I'd broken out the laptop at ConFusion, there was a Facebook posting from Sarah Gibbons. Now a fellow itinerant college professor, back in 2004 she was a grad student at Michigan State and beloved by those of us at the 2004 Clarion workshop as "our copy girl". One can only imagine the hours she endured making more than two dozen copies of the 115 stories with a collective word count of 385,562.
On Friday she said that Lister Matheson had died the night before. Lister had been Director of the 2004 Clarion workshop.
Lister introducing Jeffrey Ford at a reading at Archives Books, 1 July 2004. (Click on photo for larger.)
Lister holding court in his kitchen at the Clarion BBQ 4 July 2004 -- it's a terrible picture but it was muggy, rainy and dark, and the flash-and-focus on my tiny Sony U30 got fooled.
Lister Malcolm Matheson Haslett, Michigan and Lochalsh, Scotland was born on May 19, 1948 in Glasgow, Scotland and died on January 19, 2012 of complications arising from a form of aplastic anemia. He was 63. Lister was the eldest son of Charles and Margaret Anderson Matheson (née Lister). In the United States he is survived by his son, Calum, and life partner, Tess Tavormina. In Scotland he is survived by his mother, his sister and brother-in-law Charlotte and John Barbour, his brother Calum, and cousins Edna Shoebridge, Robert Sinclair, Gordon Sinclair, Evelyn Topp, Ian Fraser, Malcolm Freeman, Susan Steward, Heather Marskell, Charles Findlay, Hilda Ross, Farquhar Matheson, and many nieces and nephews. At the time of his death Lister was Professor of English and Medieval Studies at Michigan State University (MSU), where he had taught since 1986. He was an alumnus of the University of Glasgow (Ph.D., 1978), and served as an Assistant Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary while completing his degree. From 1975 to 1986, he worked at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) as an Associate Editor of the Middle English Dictionary and Assistant Professor of English Language and Literature. His scholarly interests lay in the study of the languages and literatures of England and Scotland and especially in their medieval chronicles. His expertise and publication history were wide-ranging and authoritative. Lister's magisterial study of the Middle English Prose Brut - the legendary and historical account of the founding of Britain - is widely recognized by his peers as the definitive work on the topic. At MSU he taught courses in the history of the English language, Old English language, Old and Middle English Literature, Geoffrey Chaucer, Arthurian literature, medieval English drama, comparative epic, and Scottish history and culture. For several years he directed the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers' Workshop in Lyman Briggs School at MSU. Lister's family and friends will treasure his memory as loving son and brother, devoted father and life partner, dedicated colleague and loyal friend, and esteemed professor and mentor to many undergraduate and graduate students. He was generous with his time, knowledge, and talents and was keen to spur on the intellectual growth and scholarly pursuits of his students. Lister was a natural host whose large heart, expansive soul, and mischievous sense of the silly and ridiculous endeared him to those who knew him and made strangers feel immediately welcome and appreciated. He was a gifted raconteur, actor, reader of poetry, singer of inspired and inane songs, and connoisseur of haggis and single malt Scotch. He lived a full life, travelled widely, and absorbed everything. He cherished his family and friends and was always the animating spirit around any crowded table, sharing good food, drink, and lively conversation. His family and a very large crowd of admiring friends shall miss him terribly. A memorial service for Lister will be held on the MSU campus this spring, at a time and location still to be announced. Lister's ashes will be interred in Lochalsh, Scotland and there will rest honorably in the company of many generations of Mathesons. The family asks those who wish to honor Lister's memory to contribute financially to the ARC Great Lakes Blood Services Region (please add "Blood Services" in the memo line), American Red Cross, 1800 E. Grand River Avenue, Lansing, MI 48912 or by donating blood at the Lansing Blood Donor Center of the American Red Cross, 1729 East Saginaw Street, Lansing, MI 48912 or at any blood donor center or blood drive convenient to them. The family is being served by Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes, East Lansing. On line condolences may be made to www.greastlansing.com.
Published in Lansing State Journal on January 24, 2012
Anything In A Coffee Cup Is Coffee
Lister could be cantankerous, but it was clear he loved writing and writers. His field was more Chaucer than Tolkien or Clarke, but he saw the connections with Literature and SF/F. With Clarion moved to San Diego, alas I had no need to go to MSU for Clarion readings in the summer and we lost touch. Condolences and sympathy to all who knew or worked with him.
UPDATE 1/25/2012 Wed:
A public memorial service will be held on (Saturday) April 7, at 2 pm, in the MSU Alumni Chapel (we chose the date for reasons of family schedules, with regrets that it may conflict with religious observances of the Easter weekend and beginning of Passover).