Here in Portland we had a local treasure, William Stafford, poet, teacher, peace activist. He died in 1993 and left a huge legacy of poetry and essays, and his best work: a son, Kim Stafford, who is following in his father's large footsteps and creating a wonderful body of poetry in his own right. He also teaches locally and maintains the archive of his father's work.
Here's a sample of Wm. Stafford's work:
Spirit of Place: Great Blue Heron
Out of their loneliness for each other
two reeds, or maybe two shadows, lurch
forward and become suddenly a life
lifted from dawn or the rain. It is
the wilderness come back again, a lagoon
with our city reflected in its eye.
We live by faith in such presences.
It is a test for us, that thin
but real, undulating figure that promises,
"If you keep faith I will exist
at the edge, where your vision joins
the sunlight and the rain: heads in the light,
feet that go down in the mud where the truth is."
(© 1987; from Even in Quiet Places, 1996)
Today I'm reading The Long Sigh the Wind Makes, a collection of Stafford's poems published in 1991, and some essays from his book Writing the Australian Crawl: Views on the Writer's Vocation. I also have a DVD , William Stafford, Life and Poems, one part of which has him deconstructing a few of his own poems. Wonderful stuff. My plan is to get to know the Staffords' work (father and son) better this year - who knows, maybe I'll get an opportunity to take a workshop with Kim.
Other reading news:
- I zipped through The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street - a sweet little memoir by Helene Hanff who, after her 20 year overseas correspondence with a London bookseller (detailed in 84, Charing Cross Road), finally gets to visit the city of her dreams.
- I finished The Gathering (Anne Enright), a book that was difficult for me to get through and made me wonder why it was the Man Booker prize winner. Literary judges often have very different taste than I do!
- I'm now into Small Island by Andrea Levy, which is a much more enjoyable read.
- Almost embarrassed to say that I'm still reading War and Peace - but I am past the 1,000th page! Maybe by next Sunday I'll declare it finished.