Journey with a literary master
I find myself in tears as I read the expertly crafted works of poet and writer, David Hedges.
"This is incredible," I think again, completely and utterly mesmerized by the beauty and grace that flows through his pen.
There is no reason to wonder why this man has won over 100 awards.
The West Linn Adult Community Center plans to host a meet and greet with the acclaimed writer from 1-2 p.m. Monday Feb. 24. So I did a little Googling to get some information to write this article and share the event.
I thought I would include the usual details — background, hometown, a list of hobbies, his many accolades and awards. Then I would let people attend the event to form their own opinions of his talents.
Not exactly. ... You see, after discovering pieces of his work online, I became entranced. This gifted writer moved me in ways I didn't expect. Who is this man?
Hedges was born in Portland, growing up roaming the lush hills and roads of Lake Grove. As a boy, his trusty 10-speed and a dog named Stubby were often with him on his adventures.
After deciding that his future was in writing he promptly left home to write in Greenwich Village, New York, in search of inspiration but eventually would return to the magical land he loved.
Graduating from Oregon State, he found success working for news publications, advertising, politics, in various public relations positions, writing everything and anything that he had a mind to.
He is married to fellow poet Scottie Sterrett, and they share their Stafford-area home with three beloved Scottish deerhounds.
Recently having turned 80, his long career is studded with accomplishments.
His poems have appeared in Poetry, Poet Lore, Measure, The Christian Science Monitor and many other publications.
A literary activist, trail blazer and mentor, he has helped to create and maintain the Oregon Student Poetry Contest, now in its 22nd year. He also co-founded, with State Librarian Jim Scheppke and Poet Laureate Lawson Inada, the Oregon Poetry Collection at the University of Oregon's Knight Library. He served on the Oregon Poetry Association board for 24 years, and on the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission board since 1988.
Twice named one of Oregon's top 10 outstanding young men, Hedges has earned a place in history.
In fact, at the 2003 Oregon Book Awards, he received the Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award for outstanding contributions to the state's literary life.
Later, at the 2004 Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts, he became the only poet ever to win the annual Chronicle Award; his framed poem was added to the city's permanent art collection.
In 2005 he was presented a Clackamas County Cultural Coalition award for his "exemplary contribution to our local arts, heritage and humanities." Impressive indeed.
However, the bit I really want to tell you is what Hedges writing does to you. I devoured every word on his official website, press written about him, examples of his poetry, prose, essays and reflections.
He is an artist. His descriptions and melodic use of the written word reached deep into my soul and I laughed and cried along with him as we journeyed together through his memories.
I strongly encourage you to come to the West Linn Adult Community Center on Feb. 24 and meet him.
He will read excerpts from his book, "Prospects of Life After Birth: Memoir in Poetry and Prose," a collection of stories about growing up in Northeast Portland and Lake Grove during the 1940s and '50s.
Noted poet X.J. Kennedy wrote, "David Hedges has given us a major work of literature — an account of his early life, in vivid, masterfully crafted verse."
Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing. Cash or checks are accepted. Join us as we gather by the fire, sit back, listen and journey with a master. Please reserve your spot at the WLACC front desk as space is limited.
Contact the WLACC at 503-557-4704, or stop by at 1180 Rosemont Road, West Linn.
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This week's lunch menu features hamburgers, potato salad, broccoli and carrot cake on Friday, Feb. 7; sweet and sour chicken, yakisoba noodles, zucchini and strawberry cream pie on Monday, Feb. 10; and tomato soup, ham sandwiches and cream puffs Wednesday, Feb. 12.
Keli Stevens is a volunteer at the WLACC.
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