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Stafford Archive to Lewis & Clark

August 06, 2008

The family of poet William Stafford has generously given his papers to Lewis & Clark College, where they will be in the care of Special Collections at the Aubrey R. Watzek Library. Stafford, who died in 1993, was Oregon’s poet laureate from 1975 to 1990, and a professor at Lewis & Clark for more than 30 years. The William Stafford Archive is a collection of 40 years of daily journals and papers representing the poet’s methodical and disciplined writing process, as well as his world travels on behalf of writing and reconciliation.

“For William Stafford, the practice of writing and the life of witness were a single project,” says his son, Kim Stafford, who has taught at Lewis & Clark for 25 years. “When my father got up before dawn to write, he was beginning his engagement with a world at war. As a writer, teacher, and witness, he sought reconciliation with the self, other people, and the earth. His writing holds out to us the possibility of friendship in all directions.”

As a disciplined daily writer, William Stafford saved almost everything he wrote, including edits and final versions of his poems. Over the course of 40 years, he accumulated more than 20,000 pages of writings.

The library plans to digitize the entire Stafford collection over the next two years and make it available online, enhancing scholarly research for historians, writers, and students alike. The collection also includes 90 discs of recordings from poetry readings, fine-press broadsides, and 15,000 photos Stafford took over the course of his life.

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