Academic journal article Oregon Historical Quarterly

"A Rich Darkness": Discovering the William Stafford Archives at Lewis & Clark College

Academic journal article Oregon Historical Quarterly

"A Rich Darkness": Discovering the William Stafford Archives at Lewis & Clark College

Article excerpt

WILLIAM STAFFORD wrote almost every day of his adult life, nearly sixty years of words "clutching all that eternity onto/page after page." (1) The statistics seem exaggerated: 20,000 pages of drafts, 85 books, approximately 3,000 published poems, and over 800 anthologized poems. Stafford's poems were embraced by critics as well as general readers, including many in the state of Oregon, which he called home for nearly thirty-eight years. He earned a National Book Award, was Poetry Consultant for the Library of Congress, and served as Oregon's Poet Laureate from 1975 until 1989. Stafford's poems were accessible to a wide range of people, with perceptive readers finding them layered and filled with complexities. He once wrote: "A speech is something you say so as to distract attention from what you do not say." (2) Stafford had many things to say and left many more unspoken. Beneath written layers, he left treasure for the world to dig into the rich darkness that is found in his literary archives.

In 2008, Stafford's family donated to the Special Collections at Lewis & Clark College over 130 linear feet of archival materials, including manuscripts, letters, photographs, artifacts, and over 5,000 publications. …

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