The 2014 centennial of the birth of one of Oregon’s greatest poets has been declared a statewide celebration by the Oregon Heritage Commission.

The poet, William Stafford of Lake Oswego, served as poet laureate of Oregon for 14 years and published more than 60 collections of poetry and prose.Stafford

“Stafford’s poetry remains alive across the country today more than two decades after his death,” said Kyle Jansson, commission coordinator. “New books of his work are being published and numerous events will take place next year as the public absorbs the words and thoughts of one of the most prolific and admired American writers of the 20th century.”

Stafford’s poetry will be the focus of the Lake Oswego Reads 2014 program. His son, Kim, will provide the keynote speech in place of his father.

The Oregon Library Association has selected Stafford as its featured author for the Oregon Reads program in 2014. Nearly 100 libraries have already joined the effort. They will select one or more Stafford-related books, ask residents in their community to read them and sponsor programs that celebrate them.

Stafford moved to Oregon from his native Kansas in 1948 and settled with his family in Lake Oswego. He taught for more than 30 years at Lewis & Clark College, which now houses his archives. Stafford won many prestigious literary awards, including the National Book Award. He was Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress (a post now called the U.S. Poet Laureate) in 1970.

“Stafford’s plain-spoken poems — quiet yet tough-minded — gained a wide following, even among readers who did not think they liked poetry,” the commission’s declaration states.

State law authorizes the Oregon Heritage Commission, whose members are appointed by the governor, to declare celebrations of statewide significance. Prior to the Stafford declaration, the most recent celebration was the 2012 centennial of woman’s suffrage in Oregon.

At a press conference last week, the Oregon Library Association announced it had assembled a speaker’s bureau of distinguished authors who agreed to make presentations in libraries during 2014. They include the aforementioned Kim Stafford; Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate; Lawson Inada, Oregon Poet Laureate emeritus; Brian Doyle, of Lake Oswego, author of “Mink River” and other books; John Daniel, author of “The Far Corner” and “Rogue River Journal”; Jerry Ramsey, author of “Coyote Was Going There” and other books; and Tim Barnes, an Oregon poet and creator of “Everyone Out There Knows.”

For more information about Stafford, visit the Friends of William Stafford website at The Oregon Reads website is

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