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Poetry night honors Stafford

by: Submitted Photo - Poet William Stafford


   Poets and admirers of the late William Stafford will gather on Saturday, Jan. 19, at 2:30 p.m., in the Rodriguez Annex of the Jefferson County Library, 134 S.E. E St., Madras, for the 2008 Birthday Poetry Reading for William Stafford.
   The program, cosponsored by the Friends of William Stafford and the Jefferson County Library, is one of a series of readings in honor of Stafford held each January across Oregon. The program is free and the public is cordially invited.
   The program will feature a group of Central Oregon poets and readers, including Maralee Gerke, Jarold Ramsey, Steve Hillis and Manuela Wickham of Madras, Jo Lee Riley of Culver, James Hagerty of Prineville, and Jack Lorts, Rob Whitbeck, Pam Hankins, and Lyn Craig of Fossil.
   Each will read a poem by Stafford and then offer something of their own. Then after a brief intermission and refreshments, members of the audience will be invited to join in the fun by reading a poem of their choice, "as the spirit moves."
   William Stafford (1914-1993) was Oregon's first poet laureate for many years, and one of America's most distinguished and revered poets, winner of the National Book Award and many other national honors, and poet laureate of the United States in 1970-71.
   He taught for many years at Lewis and Clark College, and lived in Lake Oswego and Sisters. A tireless traveler, he gave thousands of poetry readings all over America and the world, literally from Madras, India to Madras, Oregon.
   Following Stafford's death, a national organization called "The Friends of William Stafford" was organized by admirers and fellow poets to honor his poetry and to promote creative writing in general.
   The friends sponsor programs and readings each January, the year of his birth; this will be the sixth such reading in Madras, and the only one held in north Central Oregon.
   The program will begin with a showing of a portion of a video profile of William Stafford, "What the River Says."
   For more information, call Jarold Ramsey at 475-5390.