Ok, who is Oregon’s current Poet Laureate? I thought so, scratch your head no more because WORDS is about to fill you in. On May 15, 2018, Governor Kate Brown named Kim Stafford the ninth Poet Laureate of Oregon. Stafford grew up in Oregon and received his Ph.D. in medieval literature from the University of Oregon. His resume includes printer, photographer, oral historian, editor and visiting writer. Kim Stafford is the second member of his family to be named Oregon Poet Laureate. His father, William Stafford served from 1975–1990.

‘As a writer, I take this question by the writer Carol Bly as my own: “How can I take the neat dent in the lid of a canning jar well-sealed … and the plain look of surprise on the face of a cow, when it meets you on the highway, and will not turn aside … or the way snow, when it first falls in the mountains, is so fragile you are afraid to touch it at all, and turn these things, through my writing, into something clear enough, and passionate enough, that teenage boys in America will not have to go do a war somewhere in order to feel alive? That is, how can I take ordinary, local, common things, and sing them in my poetry in such a way that we all wake up to the work we have to do together to heal the world?’ Kim Stafford. (Sourced from the Oregon Poetry Association website).

 

Practicing the Complex Yes

                                             Kim Stafford

When you disagree with a friend,

a stranger, or a foe, how do you

reply but not say simply No?

For No can stop the conversation

or turn it into argument or worse—

the conversation that must go on,

as a river must, a friendship, a troubled nation.

So may we practice the repertoire

                          of complex yes:

 

Yes, I know you feel that way, and…

Yes, and in what you say I see…

Yes, oh yes, and at the same time…

Yes, I see, and what if…?

Yes, I hear you, and how…?

Yes, and there’s an old story…

Yes, and as the old song goes…

Yes, and as a child once told me…

Yes. Tell me more. I want to understand…

And then I want to tell you how it is for me….

 

AND, in case you are dying of curiosity as to who won the Rooney Prize for Irish literature this year, it was Caitriona Lally for her book, Eggshells, ‘a work of impressive imaginative reach, witty, subtle and occasionally endearingly unpredictable’. Eggshells is about loneliness, friendship and hope—a socially isolated misfit walks around Dublin searching for patterns and meaning in graffiti or magical-sounding place names or small doors that could lead to another world. So what is Caitriona’s day job? For the past 3½ years, she has worked as a janitor at Trinity College who awarded the prize!

Keep reading, keep thinking and please send me your thoughts at wordsjade@gmail.com