On May 14th, at its annual awards banquet, the CWW honored A Reunion of Ghosts with the Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award. It was a beautiful, joyous event, especially when each of the award recipients read from their work. I especially loved the excerpt Matt Cashion read from his prize-winning story.
And I was deeply moved by the words of the Ferber Award judge, Lee K. Abbot (Lee K. Abbot!!), whose comments about of A Reunion of Ghosts began, “Lordy, what an artfully accomplished novel this is…” and ended, “I am enthralled by this novel. I am beguiled. I am charmed. And, to be sure, I am humbled. A Reunion of Ghosts is a sterling example of what Updike argued was the work that fiction did best: to turn the there and then into the here and now.”
But the highlight of the day for me was getting to hear my former colleague, UW-Madison Professor Emeritus Ron Wallace (pictured above), the recipient of the Edna Muedt Award for his most recent book of poetry For Dear Life, read from that collection. The poems in the book are all sonnets that incorporate classic haikus. Here’s one that Ron read at the ceremony.
Rounded With a Sleep
My two-year-old granddaughter won’t go to bed. Life,
she thinks, is too good to sleep away, so, suddenly, she is
loquacious. Things that had held no interest all day—a
wooden block, a plastic doll, a piece of lint, a dewdrop–
are now worthy of her full attention. Oh, yes,
she is much too busy to attend to her mother, and I
am but a small annoyance, an impediment. I am
of little consequence. Bedtime? She’s not convinced.
And so we sit back and let her regale us. Life
is something she knows a lot about. She is
talking on and on to herself, she is a stream, a
flow, an ocean of talk, and we are but a dewdrop.
It’s late. We know this is going to have to end, and
we’re going to have to convince her. And yet, and yet.
The haiku, by Issa, is found by reading the last word of each line of the sonnet:
Life is a dewdrop
Yes, I am convinced
Life is a dewdrop. And yet