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Linfield to host annual Stafford birthday reading

William StaffordLinfield College will host the annual William Stafford memorial poetry reading Wednesday, Jan. 11, at 7:30 p.m. in the Austin Reading Room of the Jereld R. Nicholson Library.

Stafford was one of Oregon’s most famous authors. He was a professor at Lewis and Clark College where he taught for 30 years and wrote more than 50 books prior to his death in 1993. He is celebrated for his encouragement of other writers and his advocacy for freedom of expression in writing and speech. He was the recipient of the National Book Award.

The reading is part of a program organized by the Friends of William Stafford, an organization that works to commemorate the author’s birthday each year and advance education in local communities. The Friends of William Stafford sponsors multiple poetry readings and presentations throughout Oregon, Washington and other regions. The events usually feature five or six readers who may present one of Stafford’s beloved works, and one of their own written in the spirit of Stafford.

The Linfield reading will be hosted by Barbara Drake, Linfield professor emeritus of English. Featured readers include authors Barbara LaMorticella, Michael McDowell, Mary Slocum, Joanna Rose, Mark Thalman and Bill Siverly. Members of the audience are encouraged to bring a Stafford poem, prose passage, anecdote or an original poem to share.

The Friends of William Stafford is a non-profit poetry advocacy organization that, by keeping alive Stafford’s gift as a teacher and devotion to freedom of expression, provides ongoing education in literature. The group’s mission is directed toward education in local communities, and includes a newsletter, contributions to various public works and research of Stafford-related materials. The group is working with other organizations to plan a Stafford centennial celebration in 2014. For its commitment to promote the reading, writing and enjoyment of all literature, The Friends of William Stafford received the 2001 Whiting Memorial Award for public service to the arts from the International Society of Philosophical Enquiry.

The event is free and open to the public. The reading is co-sponsored by the Friends of Nicholson Library and the Linfield English Department. For more information, contact Susan Barnes Whyte, college librarian, at swhyte@linfield.edu or at 503-883-2517.