Apricot Irving in Conversation with Sony Ton-Aimé
Apricot Irving will read from her memoir The Gospel of Trees, the story of her childhood as a missionary’s daughter in Haiti during a time of upheaval. The book has just been released in paperback. She will be joined in conversation by poet Sony Ton-Aimé, who grew up in Haiti. Irving was six years old when her missionary parents decided to move to the north of Haiti. She fell in love with the country almost as soon as the plane landed. Less than ten years later, following coup after coup and the threat of the missionary compound being burned down, the family left Haiti and moved to Oregon. Irving returned to Haiti in 2010 to cover the earthquake for This American Life.
What had they accomplished during their time there? Irving spent years exploring her own feelings about their time in Haiti, developing compassion for her teenage self and empathy for her missionary parents. Drawing from both her father’s and mother’s journals, as well as from her own, Irving retraces the story of her family and the shattered history of colonization, grappling with the complicated legacy of those who wish to improve the world. When asked to describe her book, Irving says “It’s a memoir in many voices about a fractured family finding their way back to each other through words. It’s a meditation on beauty in a broken world, loss and privilege, love and failure, trees and why they matter. It bears witness to the defiant beauty of an undefeated country.”
The Gospel of Trees is a finalist for an Oregon Book Award in Creative Nonfiction (winners to be announced April 22nd). Irving is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award and an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship and has served on the Advisory Committee of the Oregon Book Awards. Her work has appeared in Granta, This American Life, MORE Magazine, Oregon Humanities and the anthology Best Women’s Travel Writing. She has lived in Haiti, Indonesia, and the UK and currently lives with her husband and sons in the woods outside of Portland.