This brief volume of poetry from author Hedstrom (The Church at the Edge of Time, 2005) revolves around the myriad challenges of living and loving well.
The first of the book’s two sections charts a man’s personal evolution over his lifetime, from self-absorbed youth to magnanimous family man and wise disciple of God. The second takes a broader view, exploring questions of meaning and worth through the lens of changes in a troubled community. The two sections share themes and motifs, and a few poems even appear in both. Accordingly, the book reads more like a single meditation on love and family than two distinct works. The narrator’s struggle to live up to his ideals crops up frequently, as does his reliance on God and the centrality of Christian values. Hedstrom’s verse is straightforward and unpretentious, with most poems written in a conversational and sometimes-confessional style. This earnest tone is the book’s greatest strength and lends some lines a folksy wisdom. For example, one poem reads: “It’s not easy being married to someone else / When you are the one that you love.” However, the language can also be clichéd: “Time heals all wounds they say / Without You, Lord there’s no way.” As a result, many poems feel generic and impersonal, lacking the spark of the stronger entries. The author’s overreliance on rhyming couplets also grates, with many lines sacrificing flow and clarity in favor of rigid rhyme. Ultimately, there’s little surprising here, but the author’s sincere expression of universal human concerns may appeal to some nonetheless. Hedstrom writes that “Life can become Oh so overwhelming if / I try to manage it by myself alone,” and readers—particularly those who share his Christian faith—may find solidarity in these verses.
An earnest exploration of weighty spiritual subjects that’s short on innovation but full of heart.