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The Collected Poems of Ada Hastings Hedges

Alan L. Contreras and Ulrich H. Hardt

Afterword by Ingrid Wendt

5.5 × 8.5. 6 b&w photographs. Annotations. Bibliography. Indexes. 144 pages.

2020. ISBN 978-0-87071-994-3. Paperback, $18.95.


Available April 2020
Although for the most part forgotten today, Ada Hastings Hedges was among Oregon’s foremost mid–twentieth-century poets. Famous in her lifetime, she was best known for her superb poems set in Oregon’s high desert, which offer a fascinating counterpoint to C.E.S. Wood’s seminal The Poet in the Desert.

Except for a twelve-year sojourn in southeastern Oregon and two years in Los Angeles, Hedges lived in Portland from 1910 until her death in 1980. She was assistant editor at Binfords & Mort Publishers and a supervising editor in the Works Progress Administration. She taught briefly at Warner Pacific College in the 1960s.

Hedges wrote in a style notable for precision, clarity, and smoothness of line. More than half of her poems in this collection are sonnets.  A poet of the city as well as the desert, her work offers a compelling perspective on mid-century Portland life. In 1933 she published her only book, Desert Poems. That collection is reprinted here in its entirety, along with scores of additional poems published in a wide variety of venues, making this the first comprehensive collection of Hedges’s work.

A detailed introduction by the editors and annotations to the text provide information about revisions, publication dates, and notable features. Also included is an essay by Hedges asking “Can Poetry Be Taught?” In her afterword, Oregon poet Ingrid Wendt writes of her admiration for Hedges’s “fierceness of spirit, lack of sentimentality, and complex vision.”

For readers interested in women’s literature, Pacific Northwest poetry, and the literature of Eastern Oregon, this volume reintroduces a compelling regional voice.
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