William Stafford Poems

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William Stafford
William Edgar Stafford (January 17, 1914 August 28, 1993) was an American poet and pacifist, and the father of poet and essayist Kim Stafford. He and his writings are sometimes identified with the Pacific Northwest. Stafford was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, the oldest of three children in a highly literate family. During the Depression, his family moved from town to town in an effort to find work for his father. Stafford helped contribute to family income by delivering newspapers, working in the sugar beet fields, raising vegetables, and working as an electrician's mate. He graduated from high school in the town of Liberal in 1933. After attending junior college, he received a B.A. from the University of Kansas in 1937. He was drafted into the United States armed forces in 1941, while pursuing his master's degree at the University of Kansas, when he became a conscientious objector. As a registered pacifist, he performed alternative service from 1942 to 1946 in the Civilian Public Service camps operated by the Brethren Service Commission of the Church of the Brethren, which consisted of forestry and soil conservation work in Arkansas, California, and Illinois for $2.50 per month. While working in California in 1944, he met and he married Dorothy Hope Frantz with whom he later had four children. He received his M.A. from the University of Kansas in 1947. His master's thesis, the prose memoir Down In My Heart, was published in 1948 and described his experience in the forest service camps. That same year he moved to Oregon to teach at Lewis & Clark College. In 1954, he received a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. Stafford taught for one academic year (1955-1956) in the English department at Manchester College in Indiana, where he joined the local congregation of the Church of the Brethren. The following year, he returned to the faculty of Lewis & Clark.

atavism
 
 
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Sometimes in the open you look up
where birds go by, or just nothing,
and wait. A ... [read poem]
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