Stafford, Kim R. 1949-
STAFFORD, Kim R. 1949-
(Kim Robert Stafford)
PERSONAL: Born October 15, 1949, in Portland, OR; son of William E. (a poet and teacher) and Dorothy (a teacher; maiden name, Frantz) Stafford. Education: University of Oregon, B.A., 1971, M.A., 1973, Ph.D., 1979. Religion: Church of the Brethren.
ADDRESSES: Office—Northwest Writing Institute, Box 100, Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR 97219; fax: 503-768-7747.
CAREER: Writer, poet, speaker, performer, consultant. Pioneer Museum, Florence, OR, oral historian, 1975–76; apprentice printer in Port Townsend, WA, 1976; Graywolf Press, printer and editor, 1978–80; Pacific Lutheran University, instructor, 1978–83; Northwest Writing Institute, Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR, director, 1979–. Oregon Folk Arts Program, director, 1988–93; Bard College Institute for Writing and Thinking, associate, 1986–.
MEMBER: National Council of Teachers of English.
AWARDS, HONORS: University of Oregon fellowship, 1971–74; Bicentennial Commission of Oregon grant, 1975; National Endowment for the Arts creative writing fellow, 1976 and 1984; research grant, Idaho State University, 1982; Western States Book Award, 1986, and Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award, 1987, both for Having Everything Right: Essays of Place; Distinguished Alumni Award, University of Oregon, 1992; public service award, World Affairs Council, 1993; Governor's Arts Award, Oregon Arts Commission, 1998.
(With father, William E. Stafford) Braided Apart (poems), Confluence Press (Lewiston, ID), 1976.
A Gypsy's History of the World (poems), Copper Canyon Press (Port Townsend, WA), 1976.
(Editor, with Carol Bangs and Sam Hamill) Faces in the Crowd: An Anthology of Washington High School Student Poetry and Fiction, 1981, Centrum (Port Townsend), WA, 1981.
The Granary: Poems, Carnegie-Mellon University Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 1982.
Rendezvous: Stories, Songs, and Opinions of the Idaho Country, Idaho State University Press, 1982.
Having Everything Right: Essays of Place, Confluence Press (Lewiston, ID), 1986.
Places and Stories (poems), Carnegie-Mellon University Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 1987.
Entering the Grove (nonfiction), photographs by Gary Braasch, Peregrine Smith Books (Salt Lake City, UT), 1990.
Lochsa Road: A Pilgrim in the West (essay), illustrated by Hannah Hinchman, Confluence Press (Lewiston, ID), 1991.
Wind on the Waves (stories), photographs by Ray Atkeson, Graphic Arts Center Publishing Co. (Portland, OR), 1992.
We Got Here Together (children's book), illustrated by Debra Frasier, Harcourt Brace (San Diego, CA), 1994.
Apple Bough Soliloquy (long poem), Lone Goose Press, 1995.
A Thousand Friends of Rain: New and Selected Poems, Carnegie-Mellon University Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 1999.
Early Morning: Remembering My Father, William Stafford, Graywolf Press (Saint Paul, MN), 2002.
(Editor and author of introduction) Every War Has Two Losers: William Stafford on Peace and War, Milkweed Editions (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.
The Muses among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer's Craft, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 2003.
Also editor of Echoes in the Wind, an anthology of poems by children, 1977; Wheel Made of Wind (CD of original songs), Little Infinities, 1998. Contributor to Atlantic Monthly, New York Times Book Review, Harper's, Chronicle of Higher Education, Outside, Kenyon Review, Hudson Review, Western American Literature, Clearwater Journal, Kayak, Kansas Quarterly, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review, the Sun, and to National Public Radio.
SIDELIGHTS: "Kim R. Stafford could be called a neonaturalist, one of a still small but growing group of young writers who celebrate landscape with the passion of the English Romantics," wrote Elaine Kendall in the Los Angeles Times. The dozen essays in Having Everything Right: Essays of Place relate Stafford's experiences—whether recent or remembered—in the Pacific Northwest. "Before this book, Stafford had published collections of poetry and folklore. He brings both to this first book of essays," Harriet Choice wrote in a Chicago Tribune review. Stafford portrays smalltown eccentrics as well as the character of the trees and rivers in the wilderness areas he has explored since childhood; he also draws subjects from Indian folk tales and family lore. Kendall noted that Stafford's poetic language creates a reverent effect, saying that "the fact that this literature is entirely secular and in prose in no way diminishes either its lyricism or its spirituality…. Stafford shows how to create a private Eden in the midst of the clamorous environment at hand." The book won a Western States Book Award citation for excellence in 1986, and a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award in 1987.
Stafford's second nonfiction collection, Entering the Grove, contains twelve essays in which he offers thoughts, insights, and impressions about the beauty and meaning of trees. Entering the Grove, Mary Ellen Ackerman wrote in Western American Literature, "entices its readers to enter the grove and recognize humanity's kinship with trees, and the consequent responsibility: 'Trees are guardians of the Earth, and we are the guardians of trees.'" Michael Hofferber in the Bloomsbury Review also commented favorably on Stafford's loose narrative style and meditative prose, writing that "these essays do not grow straight, like lodgepole pine, but branch out in many directions as would an apple or a sycamore…. The dense thicket of thoughts that sprouts from Stafford's prose occasionally gathers around a knot of resonant perception."
In Lochsa Road: A Pilgrim in the West, Stafford continues to address environmental and spiritual concerns. Written during a lecture tour throughout Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, Lochsa Road is a record of Stafford's observations about the landscape, as well as his insights about the meaning of life. As Kate Boyes observed in Western American Literature, the "real gift Stafford brings back from his journey is not his own story, however lyrically told, but the model his story provides for those who would make their own pilgrimage. In Lochsa Road we are reminded that images passing through the filters we usually place on our senses can be most meaningful."
Stafford's father is remembered in his Early Morning: Remembering My Father, William Stafford. The noted American poet (1914–1993) rose very early in the morning, before first light, to write the poems in which he celebrated his native Kansas and adopted Oregon. His son remarks on his father's life and work, and of the pacifism that drew criticism when, during World War II, he declared himself a conscientious objector and subsequently worked in Civilian Public Service camps that were established for those who took that stand. For two years he was separated from his family and friends, the latter of which tended to be more critical than strangers because they cared so much for the poet. But the camps introduced Stafford to like-minded young men, many of them Quaker, Mennonite, or Amish, and they shared their thoughts and philosophies.
The elder Stafford knew hard work. He had labored in sugar beet fields, at an oil refinery, in forestry and as a firefighter, and had a long career as a teacher. Christian Century reviewer Jeff Gundy wrote that when Stafford died, "he was not the most famous or most critically acclaimed poet around, but he was certainly among the most beloved. To the many who knew him personally or through his work, he was not only an innovative poet, but one who managed to bring his life and his writing together into a seamless, striking witness to nonviolence and poetic freedom."
In an interview posted on the Lewis and Clark College Web site, Brian Doyle asked Stafford about his father's poetry "and his brave difficult witness against violence." Stafford said that "violence is a failure of imagination. This my father taught me…. Cruelty is for people who are bored, desperate, helpless, or unable to think in detail. My father taught me how the habit of making—poems, music, family, a career most native in who you are, a new idea of world citizenship—these diminish the yen for adventure and the strange hunger to prevail that can build a country's ambition for war."
Stafford, who is executor of his father's estate, has taken steps to keep his father's work in public view, including by publishing Every War Has Two Losers: William Stafford on Peace and War. Gundy, who also reviewed this volume, wrote that "especially when read alongside Early Morning, Every War makes clear just how capacious and wide-ranging Stafford's thinking on the challenges of peacemaking actually was—and how essential, in a time when calls to perpetual war ring from the most powerful voices in the land."
Stafford's The Muses among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer's Craft draws on his experience as teacher, writer, and "professional eavesdropper." He offers advice about the writing process, finding the muse, submissions, and handling rejections. Booklist's Trgyve Thoreson called the volume "a rich resource for any writer, but particularly those who value writing as a path to personal fulfillment."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Stafford, Kim R., Early Morning: Remembering My Father, William Stafford, Graywolf Press (Saint Paul, MN), 2002.
Bloomsbury Review, April, 1991, Michael Hofferber, review of Entering the Grove, p. 11.
Booklist, May 1, 1994, p. 1610; October 15, 2002, Bill Ott, review of Early Morning: Remembering My Father, William Stafford, p. 380; April 15, 2003, Trgyve Thoreson, review of The Muses among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer's Craft, p. 1443.
Chicago Tribune, September 7, 1986, Harriet Choice, review of Having Everything Right: Essays of Place.
Christian Century, April 6, 2004, Jeff Gundy, review of Early Morning and Every War Has Two Losers: William Stafford on War and Peace, p. 26.
Library Journal, December, 2002, Robert L. Kelly, review of Early Morning, p. 128; December, 2003, Maria Kochis, review of Every War Has Two Losers, p. 117.
Los Angeles Times, September 26, 1986, Elaine Kendall, review of Having Everything Right.
New York Times Book Review, August 3, 1986, p. 19.
Poets and Writers Magazine, January-February, 1987.
Publishers Weekly, July 2, 1982, p. 51; June 27, 1986, p. 77; March 14, 1994, p. 73.
Western American Literature, fall, 1991, Mary Ellen Ackerman, review of Entering the Grove, p. 279; summer, 1993, Kate Boyes, review of Lochsa Road: A Pilgrim in the West, pp. 156-157.
Kim Stafford Home Page, http://www.lclark.edu/∼krs (June 27, 2004).
Lewis and Clark College Web site, http://education.lclark.edu/ (June 27, 2004), Brian Doyle, "Patriot of the Possible" (interview).
Speakeasy, http://www.speakeasymagazine.org/ (June 27, 2004), Patrice Clark Koelsch, review of Early Morning.