Singer Come from Afar by Kim Stafford
This book considers war and peace, pandemic struggles, Earth imperatives, a seeker’s spirit, and forging kinship. The former poet laureate of Oregon, Stafford has shared poems from this book in libraries, prisons, on reservations, with veterans, immigrants, homeless families, legislators, and students in schools. He writes for hidden heroes, resonant places, and for our chance to converge in spite of differences. Poems like “Practicing the Complex Yes” and “The Fact of Forgiveness” offer tools for connection with the self, the community, and the Earth: “It is a given you have failed . . . [but] the world can’t keep its treasures from you.” For the early months of the pandemic, Stafford wrote and posted a poem for challenge and comfort each day on Instagram and published a series of chapbooks that traveled hand to hand to far places—to Norway, Egypt, and India. He views the writing and sharing of poetry as an essential act of testimony to sustain tikkun olam, the healing of the world. May this book be the hidden spring you seek.
“Poetry began as song, and in the lyrics of Kim Stafford we still hear the singing. A keen listener to voices human and wild, he writes of prisoners and refugees, toads and wrens, warriors and peacemakers, orcas and rivers. His guiding impulse is compassion. He urges us to defy ‘the camp of anger’ through acts of kindness. He assures us that Nature holds no grudges. Even ‘in the era of stormy weather,’ bees gather nectar, birds weave nests, seeds sprout, and new life emerges. Here is a bard of small creatures and gentle gestures who believes that art can help heal the wounds we’ve inflicted on Earth, our fellow species, and one another, and that conviction shines through every page of this big-hearted book.”—Scott Russell Sanders, author of The Way of Imagination
Kim Stafford is a writer and teacher in Oregon, and founding director of the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College. His poetry titles include A Gypsy’s History of the World (Copper Canyon Press), and Wild Honey, Tough Salt (Red Hen Press). He has published a biography, Early Morning: Remembering My Father, William Stafford (Graywolf Press), We Got Here Together (a children’s book from Harcourt-Brace), and a book about writing and teaching: The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer’s Craft (University of Georgia Press). Poems in this book have appeared in The Orion, Pilgrimage, Terrain, World Literature Today, and featured on The Writer’s Almanac. His books have received Pacific Northwest Booksellers awards, and a Citation for Excellence from the Western States Book Awards. Stafford has received two NEA Creative Writing Fellowships in poetry and has taught writing in Scotland, Italy, Mexico, and Bhutan. He co-founded the annual Fishtrap Writers Gathering in Oregon and teaches regularly at the Richard Hugo House in Seattle.