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Stafford’s 100th birthday celebrated at annual reading

William StaffordOne of Oregon’s most respected poets will be honored at the annual William Stafford memorial poetry reading Monday, Jan. 13, at 7:30 p.m. in the Austin Reading Room of the Jereld R. Nicholson Library.

This year commemorates Stafford’s 100th birthday and has been named the official Oregon Reads Stafford year by the Oregon Library Association. Stafford was one of Oregon’s most famous authors. He was a professor at Lewis & 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 a recipient of the National Book Award.

The reading will be hosted by Barbara Drake, Linfield professor emeritus of English. In addition to Drake, featured readers include Linfield Professors Lex Runciman, Anna Keesey and Joe Wilkins; Newberg author Lisa Ohlen Harris; and others. Linfield students will also participate including sophomores Angelia Saplan and Gemma Jackson; junior Laura Gorman; and seniors Kyra Rickards and Andrea Snyder. Members of the audience are encouraged to bring a Stafford poem, prose passage, anecdote or an original poem to share.

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

The FWS is a nonprofit poetry-advocacy organization that, by keeping alive Stafford’s gift as a teacher devoted to all types of free expression, provides ongoing education in literature, particularly in poetry, in ways that will encourage and broaden the community of readers and writers. FWS also supports and helps to underwrite a variety of literary projects and events open to the public. For its commitment to promote the reading, writing and enjoyment of all literature, FWS 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, the Linfield English Department and McMinnville Public Library. For more information, contact Susan Barnes Whyte, college librarian, at swhyte@linfield.edu or 503-883-2517.