Oregon Poet Laureate Kim Stafford will speak on the topic “Writing is Luxury…But It Could Save Your Life,” at the Feb. 17 meeting of Willamette Writers’ Coast chapter. The free workshop takes place at the Newport Public Library from 2 to 4 p.m.
Stafford said his talk is inspired by a quote from Oregon writer Gary Miranda, who said, “People who don’t read or write may be spared the inconvenience of thought.” He will dive into that inconvenience by sharing poems, questions, stories, and mysteries related to the practice of writing.
In May 2018, Gov. Kate Brown named Stafford, the founding director of The Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College, to a two-year appointment as Poet Laureate of Oregon, succeeding Elizabeth Woody. Over the next two years, Stafford will provide up to 20 public readings per year across the state to inform community, business and state leaders about the value and importance of poetry and creative expression.
Stafford is the author of a dozen books of poetry and prose, including The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer’s Craft, A Thousand Friends of Rain: New & Selected Poems, and Wind on the Waves: Stories from the Oregon Coast. In 2016, the 30th anniversary edition of his collection of essays, Having Everything Right, came out from Pharos Editions. He has taught writing in dozens of schools and community centers, and in Scotland, Italy, and Bhutan.
“Poetry is our native language,” said Stafford. “We begin with imaginative experiments as children, and lyric language can be a realm of delight throughout life. For adults and communities, poetry can help us be more open to new ideas, emotionally informed, and buoyant in responding to challenges. In a society of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, poetry builds community.”
“Generosity of spirit may not be an explicitly stated part of the criteria for Oregon Poet Laureate, but it is a central part of who Kim Stafford is, both in his poetry and in the flesh,” said Adam Davis, executive director of Oregon Humanities, which administers the Poet Laureate program on behalf of the Cultural Trust.
Stafford holds a Ph.D. in medieval literature from the University of Oregon, and has worked as a printer, photographer, oral historian, editor, and visiting writer at a host of colleges and schools. He lives in Portland with his wife and children.
Willamette Writers thanks the Anchor Pier Lodge, Sylvia Beach Hotel, Hallmark Hotel, and the Inn at Nye Beach for donating lodging for their authors and the Newport Public Library for providing a monthly meeting space.