Annual Linfield Stafford reading date changed

William StaffordOne of Oregon’s most beloved poets will be honored at the annual William Stafford memorial poetry reading Wednesday, Jan. 14, at 7 p.m. in the Austin Reading Room of the Jereld R. Nicholson Library.

The reading was originally scheduled for Jan. 12 but the date has been changed.

The event honors the work of Stafford, famed Oregon poet who encouraged other writers to advocate for freedom of expression. Stafford taught at Lewis & Clark College for 30 years and wrote more than 50 books prior to his death in 1993. He was a recipient of the National Book Award for Poetry in 1963 for his first major collection of poems, “Traveling Through the Dark.”

The event will be hosted by Barbara Drake, Linfield professor emerita of English, and feature Linfield professors, students and local poets. Representing Linfield this year are Professors Anna Keesey, Joe Wilkins and Miguel Tejada-Flores, along with students senior Mattie Wong, junior Katie Higinbotham and sophomore Quinn Riesenman. Local poets Sam Snoek-Brown, Emily Grosvenor and Lisa Ohlen Harris will also read. Each person will read a Stafford poem and then a poem he or she wrote in the spirit of Stafford’s work.

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.