William Stafford was born & raised in Kansas, spent World War II in a camp for conscientious objectors, didnt publish his first book of poems until he was 48, and then became one of the most prolific, honored & beloved poets of the 20th century, producing 65 books of poetry & prose. He served as Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress (the position now known as Poet Laureate) in 1970, and taught for many years at Lewis & Clark College in Oregon.
Stafford often rose to write before dawn, and during many periods wrote a poem every day -- even the last day of his life, when he wrote Are You Mr. William Stafford?
He was a poet of attentive ordinary life, sincerity, and deceptively simple language, his work always reaching in to the authentic core of a story or experience, unafraid to state the truth as he felt it, simply and without posturing. His poems speak directly to the reader, heart to heart, mind to mind, & are beloved for that.
Books by William Stafford:
Perhaps because of his habit of writing daily, Stafford was extraordinarily prolific, publishing more than 60 books during his lifetime. Here are some key places to begin reading his work:
- The Way It Is: New & Selected Poems (poems selected by Robert Bly, Naomi Shihab Nye & son Kim Stafford, Graywolf Press, 1998)
- The Darkness Around Us Is Deep (poems selected by Robert Bly, Harper Perennial, 1993)
- Even in Quiet Places (poems from three chapbooks published at the end of his life, selected by Kim Stafford, Confluence Press, 1996)
- Writing the Australian Crawl: Views on the Writers Vocation (Poets on Poetry Series, University of Michigan Press, 1978)
- Learning to Live in the World: Earth Poems (selected for students grade 6 & up, Harcourt, 1994)
- Every War Has Two Losers (essays, journal entries, poems & prose on war & peace selected by Kim Stafford, Milkweed Editions, 2003)
- The Answers Are Inside the Mountains: Meditations on the Writing Life (posthumous collection of meditations, Poets on Poetry Series, University of Michigan Press, 2004)