“We can educate and inspire through our stories”
Interview with Andrea H. Hedeș
If you have a desire to pass on knowledge, transmitting it via an art form is a far more effective method than using straightforward instruction, says Andrea H. Hedeș, a highly talented poet, writer, literary critic and publisher from Cluj in Romania.
“I think we can educate and inspire people through our stories. People are also more receptive to knowledge passed on by means of a work of art – literature, art, theatre – than through cold guidelines,” she said, speaking ahead of her appearance at the 6th EU-China International Literary Festival.
Hedes has been writing prolifically since she was young – very young.
“I have been writing literature as soon as I learned how to write the alphabet. Since than I was easily writing poems, fairy tales, short stories,” she said.
Literature a spiritual feast
The versatile writer works in multiple genres and believes that approach offers a writer the very best that the world of literature has to offer.
“It is never an effort to cross the border of literary genres and I have been building on it since those early years. If you see literature as a feast, writing in more than one genre is like tasting at a celebratory feast – soup, noodles but also cakes and fruits and not only tasting one of these. Literature is a spiritual feast.”
Her 2020 novel A Meeting on Hazard Street has been extremely well received by critics and readers alike. At heart, she sees writers as storytellers and this formed the basis of this novel and indeed all her writing.
“Even a beautiful poem tells a story. People need stories, they bring us together. I wanted to tell a story through a novel,” she said.
As she set about writing the book she had in mind the guiding words of the 19th-century French writer Stendhal when he said “a novel is a mirror carried along a high road. At one moment it reflects to your vision the azure skies, at another the mire of the puddles at your feet”.
So her novel mirrors, literally and metaphorically, a walk on a road. “It is a walk through life and it has an optimistic ending because I do believe in happy endings and in the triumph of good things. I always transmit messages of hope.
Stories from the Other Shore
Turning to short stories, such as her award-winning 2019 collection Stories from the Other Shore, she finds the shorter genre more challenging as a writer.
“Of course, the writing technique is very different from writing a novel when it comes to writing a short story. In a short space one has to create a plausible world, with vivid characters, plot, intrigue, climax, to captivate and, if possible, to bring something new in the rules of writing a story, and that usually means to play with or even break the rules. For that, one has to be a very good connoisseur of literature and even of history of literature,” she said.
On the poetry front, her work has won several accolades, including the Andrei Mureșanu Prize for Poetry for Arrhythmias (2015), and the George Coșbuc Prize for Poetry for Harsh Ours (2017). It has also brought her to many interesting places around the world, including Chengdu in Sichuan in 2018.
“I was honoured to be invited to the 2nd Chengdu International Poetry Week. I knew about the Chinese impressive cultural tradition in fields like literature, painting, calligraphy, traditional theatre and I was eager to know the contemporary Chinese cultural stage,” she said. “Not only I have discovered a vivid, creative and innovative view on literature, especially poetry, but I have met wonderful people and made some cherished memories.”
Setting up a press
As a young writer, Hedes had experiences with publishing houses that she found to be far from satisfying. So, after gaining widespread experience in the literary field herself she then decided to establish her own publishing house and the now highly regarded Steaua literary magazine.
“I felt I could do better helping writers who are taking their first steps on their journey. I set up the press and magazine to discover, sustain and promote talented people in a way I wish I had been helped when I first entered this fascinating world,” she said.
“Being a writer myself helps me better understand the authors and their needs. Helping the others and bringing joy and wellbeing. It is very satisfactory to help a writer have their book published and is very rewarding to have feedback from the readers who enjoy the books.
“It is a great feeling of communion,” she said.