Giving Their Word: Conversations with Contemporary Poets

By Steven Ratiner | Go to book overview

1
—OPENING THE MOMENT
William
Stafford

LINKED BY MORE THAN THE PHONE LINE, we were connected by weather. I sat in Massachusetts listening as a warm July rain pelted the garden. William Stafford—one of the most vital and open-hearted modern poets America has produced—sat in his workroom on the other side of the continent and looked out on “a typical Oregon day. Can't tell if the water is coming from the ground or the sky. It's just wet!” Though he'd lived in the West for decades, the Kansas lilt persisted in his voice and his laugh. After several hours of conversation, the distance between our two windows seemed surprisingly small.

Stafford's many collections of poetry and essays earned him numerous honors including the National Book Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Shelley Memorial Award and the National Endowment for the Arts Senior Fellowship for a lifetime of “extraordinary contributions to American literature. ” During his years as a professor at various colleges and writing

-11-

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Giving Their Word: Conversations with Contemporary Poets
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Preface ix
  • Giving Their Word *
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 9
  • 1 - —Opening the Moment 11
  • 2 - —A Solitary Walk 39
  • 3 - —Poetry and the Common Work 65
  • 4 - —The Toy of Language 75
  • 5 - —The Words Worth Saying 95
  • 6 - —The Work That Makes a Home 109
  • 7 - —New Life in the Barn 129
  • 8 - —The Poetry of Witness 147
  • 9 - —Poetry and the Burden of History 169
  • 10 - —The Communal Voice 183
  • 11 - —A Chorus of Voices 199
  • 12 - —Reclaiming the Word 221
  • 13 - —Without and Within 237
  • Selected Sources 267
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