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Stafford to speak about the power of language

Kim Stafford, the son of poet William Stafford, will speak from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Ledding Library Cultural Forum on Thursday, Nov. 7.

The theme of his presentation will revolve around the power of language.

“In spite of loss, war, confusion, anger, the myriad mysteries of this life, there is language and story to console us, to teach us, to accompany us. On this occasion I want to share some texts that try to fulfill this promise, and to discuss the importance of every voice,” he said.

He also will read from his current work, “100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do: A Memoir,” and from “Legacy of Beginning: Poems in Bhutan.” 

It is important for libraries to offer authors a chance to speak about their work and meet members of the public, Stafford said, because “without visitors, conversation, writing, listening — without a full spectrum of engagement, a library is a mere warehouse for storing wisdom. Any time we have a chance to bring our treasured library to life, we take that chance.”

He added, “I’m always hopeful that a gathering like this may invite some in the audience to try the magic practice of writing — not for accomplishment, publication, ‘proving’ anything — but as a pleasure, an exploratory quest, one brief way to deepen the day.”

Literary beginnings

Although William Stafford was named Poet Laureate of Oregon in 1975, Kim Stafford said he doesn’t remember his father as a writer, “but as a friend, a mysterious questioner, handy with tools, ready to listen, a dishwasher, lawn mower, fix-it specialist.” 

Since 1979, Kim Stafford has taught at Lewis & Clark College, where he is the founding director of the Northwest Writing Institute and co-director of the Documentary Studies program. He also serves as the literary executor for the estate of his father, who died in Lake Oswego in August 1993.

He has worked as an oral historian, letterpress printer, editor, photographer, teacher and visiting writer in communities and colleges across the country, and in Italy, Scotland and Bhutan.

In addition to the works he will share at the presentation, Stafford has published a dozen books of poetry and prose, including “The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer’s Craft,” “Early Morning: Remembering My Father, William Stafford” and “Having Everything Right: Essays of Place.”

He has received two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, the Oregon Governor’s Arts Award and a Western States Book Award. He lives in Portland with his wife and children.

Got culture?

What: The Ledding Library Cultural Forum presents Kim Stafford

When: 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 7

Where: The Pond House, 2125 S.E. Harrison St., Milwaukie

Details: Stafford will read from his works and answer questions from the audience. For more information, call the library at 503-786-7582.




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