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Stafford celebrated at North Plains library

William Stafford wrote a poem every day for 50 years, published dozen of books of poetry and prose and was Oregon’s Poet Laureate.

This year, 100 years after his birth, towns and cities all over the world are celebrating — especially in Oregon and North Plains.

Stafford certainly drove by the town as evidenced by the poem taken from his first book of poetry, “Traveling Through the Dark” — the namesake poem is about finding a dead doe on Wilson River Road near North Plains, published when he was 48.

The Friends of the North Plains Public Library and Friends of the Banks Public Library will host a centennial celebration at 7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 17, at St. Edward Hall, 10990 N.W. 313th Ave. in North Plains.

Stafford’s son, Kim Stafford, who is also a writer, will read his father’s works at the event.

Portland author Brian Doyle, who read to a packed house in North Plains almost a year ago as the town’s “One Book, One Community” selected author, will introduce Kim Stafford at the celebration.

William Stafford “flowered here in part because of the way Oregon is much less about class and money than other places,” said Doyle, author of “Mink River.”

“It’s about hope and creativity and endurance and hard work and facing toward what can be rather than what was.”

Heidi Fuiten, a Friends member and library employee, didn’t know Doyle and Kim Stafford were friends when she was working on arranging the celebration — or that the only date the two had open was William Stafford’s 100th birthday.

“It was really an accident,” Fuiten said.

“I love the fact that he thought everyone was a poet, if only we pay attention to the miracle of what is and report on it without fuss and bluster, and I especially admire what I think was his deeper genius — his deft asking of questions about war and peace,” Doyle said of Stafford, who was a life-long pacifist and a conscientious objector during World War II. “[I have] total respect for the famous poet, but I think his greater art was making people think how, as he said, that ‘violence is a failure of the imagination.’”

“His greatest gift may have been his belief that writing is one of the great free human activities, available to all of us, and a way to deepen our understanding and enrich our connections with one another,” said Kim Stafford. “I think my father’s writing teaches us to savor the hidden, enriching dimensions of daily life. At our program Jan. 17, I look forward to exploring ways this can happen for individuals, for families, for communities.”

The celebration is free, but seating is limited and reservations are required.

To reserve a ticket, call the North Plains Public Library at 503-647-5051.



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