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Preserving Oregon’s Poetic Voices

Most students encounter poems on the printed page, but imagine the richness of hearing the poem delivered aloud by the originating poet. To your computer. Anytime and anywhere you want.

Oregon Poetic Voices, a project spearheaded by Lewis & Clark’s Special Collections staff, will create a comprehensive online archive of poetry readings that will complement existing poetry collections across the state. The project, which has been awarded a grant by the Oregon State Library Board, will also include the creation of regional recording “studios” to create new poetry recordings as well as a custom webpage with curriculum guides for educators.

Featured poets will include William Stafford, who taught at Lewis & Clark for three decades and was poet laureate of Oregon; Lawson Inada, the state’s current poet laureate; and notable present-day Lewis & Clark poets like Vern Rutsala, professor emeritus of English, Mary Szybist, assistant professor of English, Paul Merchant, archivist for the William Stafford Archives, Kim Stafford, associate professor and director of the Northwest Writing Institute, and Jerry Harp, visiting assistant professor of English.

“Oregon Poetic Voices will enable us to maintain a record of poetry in performance,” says Doug Erickson, head of special collections. “Hearing the poet read his or her work aloud is a vitally important aspect of interpretation and a valuable teaching tool.”

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