Wednesday, February 5, 2020

"A tale about magic, about longing, about the crushing weight of dreams": Ann Tweedy on Hezada! I Miss You

"Pringle’s writing is lush and poetic.  Her weaving together of her characters’ disparate lives is nothing short of masterful.  In sentences sprinkled with unexpected metaphor, Pringle deftly renders this heartbreaking story of the meager and sometimes desperate lives of the residents of a rural Midwestern town, lives inextricably tied—through imagination, excitement, and, in some cases, blood itself—to the circus that visits every summer.  Readers will empathize and identify with Heza and Abe, the quirky and wise ten-year-old twins at the heart of the story, siblings who, like their single mother Kae, don’t quite fit in here and yet may not be able to escape.  The lives of Pringle’s characters are freighted with tragedy and sorrow and yet what am I most struck by is the love and compassion delivered when the protagonists most need it by unlikely strangers and acquaintances.  This is a tale about magic, about longing, about the sometimes crushing weight of dreams.  About the flashes of excitement that keep us alive." 
— Ann Tweedy, author of The Body's Alphabet 


Ann Tweedy
This is the story of how Ann Tweedy came to read Hezada! I Miss You, which is also the story of how I met her.

The Hugo House had a good idea to have Washington writers read. I was one of them. As I'm from Illinois, and will celebrate only my tenth anniversary of living in Washington, I was excited to learn about who these Washington writers would be and what they were like. Ann was one of them. And as it happens when excellent poets walk up to a microphone and begin to speak, I felt chills. The urge to lean forward. The wish that she would see me listening.

I felt too shy to talk to her, and she seemed enveloped by a similar feeling. My friend Walt had come to the reading, and we were standing near the front door and the rainy sidewalk as Ann left. Walt told her he liked her poetry. Walt's a poet. Walt has no concerns about speaking, or saying lovely words to strangers like, Good poetry. Or I enjoyed your poetry. Whatever it was he said in an easy way. 
Ann said thank you and walked into the rain. 

Like anyone who is better at written words than out-loud words, I messaged her online. Later, she would write a piece for the Book Your Stocking Series (read here). 

I would imagine renovating my backyard into a reading space and having Ann come read under strings of bulb lights, amidst lawn chairs of kind people and warm summer air. I have yet to do that. I still imagine it.

Ann, however, used reality, and organized a reading for us at Last Word Books in Olympia, WA. It was an intimate reading, filled with Ann's friends, and we had a wonderful, thoughtful conversation afterward. One of their group had died suddenly and recently, and we spoke of grief and friendship. It was like a temporary living room had been created among the books, and we sat together in it while the rain went on outside.

And although it is not typical for a novelist to ask a poet to blurb her work, I did. And she said yes.

You can listen to Ann read here: