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Remembering William Stafford, A 'Poet Of Personal Integrity'

Cover of Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems from William Stafford
William Stafford's collection "Ask Me."

This year marks the centennial of the birth of William Stafford, a much beloved poet and lifelong pacifist who taught at Lewis and Clark College in Portland for nearly 40 years. To celebrate the occasion, Graywolf Press has released a collection of his poems titled, "Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems."

While serving in a civilian work camp during World War II, Stafford developed the habit of getting up before dawn to write. He found a particular kind of liberty in this practice, as evidenced in his poems "Any Morning" and "Freedom."  

Elizabeth Austen talks with Ross Reynolds about why "A Ritual to Read to Each Other" and "You Reading This, Be Ready" are two of her "essential" Stafford poems.

Elliott Bay Books will host a reading from Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems on Thursday, Jan. 23 at 7:00 p.m. Local poets, including Washington State Poet Laureate Kathleen Flenniken, Gary Lemons, Rebecca Hoogs, Elizabeth Austen and David Wheeler, will read.

Web Extra

[asset-audio[{"description": "", "fid": "8446", "uri": "public://201401/WilliamStaffordPoems.mp3"}]]Elizabeth Austen reads Stafford's "Freedom" and "Any Morning."

Audio for Stafford's reading of "A Ritual to Read to Each Other" was provided courtesy of Kim Stafford, Paul Merchant and the William Stafford Archive. "Any Morning, "Freedom," "You Reading This, Be Ready" and "A Ritual to Read to Each Other" originally from "The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems." Used by permission of The Permissions Company, Inc. on behalf of the William Stafford Family Trust.