Synopses & Reviews
"David Hedges has given us a major work of literature--an account of his early life, in vivid, masterfully crafted verse. His Preface outlines what he means to do, and he not only means, he succeeds. I'm fascinated by the stories he tells, whether relatively ordinary, such as his grief when the family icebox yields to a robot-like fridge, or the extraordinary experience of a circus. Characters are drawn memorably, and places (such as the Pee Pond and Dead Man's Hill). Readers will find Prospects of Life After Birth a startling mirror of their own growing-up, and a rare view of growing-up given by the incisive mind of a first-rate writer."
--X.J. Kennedy, whose first collection of poems, Nude Descending a Staircase (1961), won the Lamont Award of the Academy of American Poets. He has received numerous other honors, including the Shelley Memorial Award of the Poetry Society of America, and Poetry's Bess Hokin Prize. Eric McHenry, writing in the New York Times Book Review, said, "X. J. Kennedy belongs to that class of uncompromising formalists that includes Richard Wilbur, Anthony Hecht, Donald Justice and W. D. Snodgrass."
"Prospects of Life After Birth: Memoir in Poetry and Prose" chronicles the first 17 years in the life of Oregon poet David Hedges, from the high drama of his birth through one lively adventure after another. At six, he swings on a rope into the fiery blast from a locomotive's smokestack. At seven, he carries water for circus elephants and earns a reserved seat under the Big Top. At 10, he helps Sailor Jim build the "world's most fantastic hobo shack." At 11, he travels to St. Louis on the Portland Rose and is taken under the wing of Louis, a black waiter who shows him the "other side" of the train, the galley, in full swing. At 15, he leads a troop of 12-year-olds to victory in the Camp Meriwether Olympics after the Scoutmaster falls ill; is serenaded up close by jazz singer June Christy; brews moonshine gin at a Central Oregon science camp, and takes in the Battle of the Strippers at two Portland burlesque theaters. At 16, he works on an Eastern Oregon ranch, pitching peas and driving a tandem axle truck in the wheat harvest--and experiencing his first brush with love. Noted poet X.J. Kennedy writes, "David Hedges has given us a major work of literature--an account of his early life in vivid, masterfully crafted verse."
About the Author
Poet and writer David Hedges, descendant of early Oregon Trail pioneers, lives and writes in the rolling hills above West Linn, Oregon. A graduate of Lake Oswego High School, he attended Oregon State College (now University) for three years before dropping out and heading to New York City's Greenwich Village, and the chair at the White Horse Tavern occupied a few years earlier by Dylan Thomas. Returning to Oregon, he graduated from Portland State College (now University). For the next 34 years, he worked as a writer, editor, and producer in the fields of journalism, public relations, advertising, and politics, winning numerous awards. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Measure, Poet Lore, Light Quarterly, Able Muse, The Christian Science Monitor, Trinacria, and, closer to home, Calapooya Collage, Left Bank, Northwest Magazine, and Windfall. He served on the Oregon Poetry Association board for 24 years, six as president, and on the board of the Portland Poetry Festival. He has been a member of the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission board since 1988. He co-founded, with State Librarian Jim Scheppke and Poet Laureate Lawson Inada, the Oregon Poetry Collection, now housed in Knight Library at the University of Oregon. At the 2003 Oregon Book Awards, he received the Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award for his contributions to Oregon's literary life. Interests include ancient to antique glass and stone trade beads, early 20th century poster stamps, Scottish Deerhounds, and the wilds of Southeastern Oregon's Empty Quarter, the darkest area in the Lower 48 on satellite photos.