Commencement Speaker: Kim Stafford
Kim Stafford is an associate professor and director of the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark, where he has taught since 1979.
He is the award-winning author of a dozen books of poetry and prose and the son of William Stafford, the former poet laureate of Oregon and a longtime Lewis & Clark professor whose centennial birthday is being observed in 2014. Kim is celebrated as a teacher of writing whose contributions to Northwest literary culture and civic life are both wide and deep. He is a passionate advocate for the place of writing in public life, seeing it as a tool that any citizen can use to put forward his or her voice against injustice: “The problems of our time are political, ecological, economic—but the solutions are cultural. How do people speak their truth? How do we listen eloquently? If communication is the fundamental alternative to violence and injustice, what is the work of each voice among us?”
Stafford holds a Ph.D. in medieval literature from the University of Oregon, and has worked as a printer, photographer, oral historian, editor, and visiting writer at a host of colleges and schools, and offered writing workshops in Italy, Scotland, and Bhutan.
His book, Having Everything Right, won a citation for excellence from the Western States Book Awards in 1986. Stafford has received creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Governor’s Arts Award for his contributions to Oregon’s literary culture, and his work has been featured on National Public Radio.
Stafford’s most recent book, 100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do, is an account of his brother’s death by suicide, and the struggle of a family to understand, and to live beyond that event. It is a story where “the writer reaches back through the difficult end to grasp the beautiful beginning, like pulling a venomous serpent inside out.”