William Stafford will be the focus for the 2014 program

How incredibly appropriate.

With great thought and purpose, the Lake Oswego Reads 2014 program has come up with what we think is the perfect selection for next year’s activities: Honoring acclaimed Lake Oswego poet William Stafford on what would be the year of his 100th birthday.William Stafford

This week’s announcement noted how “special” the choice was for the Reads program: Instead of focusing on a month-long celebration of a single book by an author as in previous years, in 2014 the focus will be on a celebration of Stafford’s collective works. Another significant change will be that portion of the program where the author comes to town (or, in the case of Lake Oswego’s “Brian Doyle in 2012 for his book, “Mink River,” drives across town) to discuss his or her book. Obviously, since Stafford died in 1993, that won’t be happening. But don’t despair, his son, Kim, (he, a distinguished poet and essayist in his own right) will seek to fill the void and speak for his father at the end of the Lake Oswego Reads 2014 program next February.

The official kickoff for Lake Oswego Reads Celebrating William Stafford will be Jan. 7, 2014, at the library. Complimentary copies of the book “Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems” by William Stafford will be distributed to Lake Oswego Public Library card holders, courtesy of the Friends of the Lake Oswego Public Library.

If you have paid attention to the Lake Oswego Reads program over the years, you undoubtedly already know what an amazing program it is. High quality, full absorption into a topic and a cascade of related events that take residents of our city on an amazing ride into the various nooks and crannies that help give life to the book being honored. The brain trust behind all of this creative, positive energy is Cyndie Glazer, the library’s program director, who along with countless volunteers and library staffers (including Director Bill Baars), spins her magic and makes the program take on a life of its own. Look at the authors and books going back to the initial Reads program seven years ago:

2007: “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

2008: “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson and the late David Oliver Relin

2009: “Stubborn Twig” by Lauren Kessler

2010: “The Whistling Season” by Ivan Doig

2011: “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese

2012: “Mink River” by Brian Doyle

2013: “Running the Rift” by Naomi Benaron

Each of these was memorable, each got the community actively engaged and each provided a plethora of opportunities to learn or witness or taste or hear firsthand topics brought up in the various books.

While the days of William Stafford riding his bicycle across Lake Oswego, perhaps to the library that he loved so much, or his teaching at nearby Lewis & Clark College are long gone, he is not forgotten. And why is that?

Stafford left behind an amazing trove of words in countless poems that it sometimes feels as though he is still with us.

He was a prolific writer who had an enormous impact on our area. His legacy is strong enough that it would survive even without being the focus for Lake Oswego Reads 2014 and other Reads programs next year throughout the state. But the fact that his writings will be the focus can only help to broaden his universal appeal.

We can’t think of a better choice for the Reads program. To the panel that came up with the decision to select William Stafford, we say good job, good decision, good for all of us.

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