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Poet laureate William Stafford center of week of events

In 2009 the Oregon Library Association asked Oregonians to read the same books in celebration of the Oregon Sesquicentennial.

This year, OLA is doing it again to commemorate the centennial of Oregon poet William Stafford. The library will be celebrating Oregon Reads during the week of Feb. 2-8. Stafford

Stafford was born in Hutchinson, Kan., in 1914. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1937 from the University of Kansas. In 1947 he was recruited by Lewis & Clark College where he worked until his retirement in 1979. In 1970 he was named to a one-year position as consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress, the position later known as poet laureate. Four years later he was appointed as Oregon’s fourth poet laureate, a position he held until August 1989. He died in 1993.

The library will celebrate the life and work of Stafford as well as poetry in general. Here is what the library has planned for Oregon Reads.

Book giveaway on Sunday starting at noon. The library will give away copies of “100 Best-Loved Poems,” edited by Philip Smith (while supplies last). This collection contains dozens of poems written by poets such as Emily Dickinson, Ben Johnson, John Keats, Percy B. Shelley and more.

Blackout poetry family event on Monday at 6:30 p.m. Bring the whole family to create witty, quirky and wise poetry from the pages of old books. It’s fun and easy to black out all the words on the page except the ones that you want to be part of your poem. Your creations will be displayed on the walls of the community room for the whole month.

Birthday celebration on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. The Friends of William Stafford will be celebrating the life and work of Oregon’s famous poet. Featured readers will discuss Stafford and read from his works, as well as from their own works. West Linn poets who will read at the event include Susan Reese, associate professor of English at Portland State University and board member of the Friends of William Stafford; Scottie Sterrett, past president of the Portland Poetry Festival; David Hedges, past president of the Oregon Poetry Association; Anna Kiel, a junior Honors English student at West Linn High School; and Andy West, an English and creative writing teacher at the high school.

Also scheduled to read are Virginia Euwer Wolff of Oregon City, winner of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award; Tiel Aisha Ansari of Portland, president of the Oregon Poetry Association; and David Milholland of Portland, president of the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission.

Book club poetry discussion on Feb. 10 at 6:45 p.m. The library’s Adult Book Club will meet the week following Oregon Reads and will discuss poetry. Bring your favorite poem from Stafford or any other poet to share with the group.

The West Linn Public Library is located at 1595 Burns St., West Linn. For more information, call 503- 656-7853 or visit westlinnoregon.gov/library.

— Cheryl Hill is a librarian at the West Linn Public Library and contributes a regular column to the West Linn Tidings.

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