Poetry in English & Spanish
Kim Stafford is a travelling poet, having visited many far-flung reaches of Oregon since he was appointed as the state's ninth Poet Laureate in May of 2018.
The state's official bard said he finds inspiration in the people and landscapes of the places he visits, of which Woodburn will be one this weekend.
Stafford will read at Woodburn Public Library, 2 p.m. Saturday, June 22, in an event designed for people of all ages and interests of the written word. While he schedules roughly 90 events over the year, each one has a uniqueness to it, and Woodburn's visit will feature bilingual presentations.
"When my friends, Juan Cervantes of Woodburn and Efraín Diaz-Horna of Salem, offered to translate some of my poems into the beautiful Spanish language, I knew I wanted to offer a bilingual poetry event at the Woodburn Public Library, and Librarian John Hunter was kind enough to put us on the calendar," Stafford said. "We will read poems in two languages, talk about the power of poetry and song to lead a happier life, and give away books for those who want to read more. This is an event for all ages, and families are welcome."
Over the past year Stafford's statewide travels map out a desert-to-seascape crisscrossing; Burns to Pendleton to Astoria to Gold Beach, with stops in central Oregon and points throughout the Columbia Gorge and Willamette Valley to boot.
Woodburn will be a comparatively short trip for the Portland resident, and one of two area appearances with a date set at St. Paul/Champoeg's Lady Hill Winery that evening. Saturday marks Stafford's second jaunt into this general area, having visited Mt. Angel's Benedictine Brewery in January, and it's a stop he anticipates with enthusiasm.
"I was inspired by Woodburn's own Rep. Teresa Alonso León when she gave a speech welcoming new citizens to Oregon, and this was another inducement to offer a program in Woodburn at the library," Stafford said.
"When I hear my poems read aloud in Spanish, they become so much more beautiful," he added. "I am honored my friends have helped to translate my poems, so they may travel farther among the people of Oregon."
Stafford was born and raised in Oregon, and has taught writing in dozens of schools and community centers, as well as in Scotland, Italy and Bhutan. As laureate he followed the footsteps of his father, William Stafford, who was Oregon's poet laureate from 1975-90.
Kim Stafford is the founding director of the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College, where he's taught since 1979, and he is the author of a dozen books of poetry and prose.
Oregon Cultural Trust spokeswoman Carrie Kikel noted that Stafford's travels throughout the state have inspired him to release a book of poetry on Oregon's natural beauty and vibrant communities.
"Like groundwater blossoming at many mountain springs," Stafford said, "the stuff of poetry can appear wherever you take a close look. I want to be the poet laureate by constantly responding to Oregon's myriad inspirations, and to do the work of the poet laureate by engaging writers all over the map."
That map's trail journeys through Woodburn Saturday.
If you go
What: Poetry reading in English & Español featuring Oregon Poet Laureate Kim Stafford.
When: 2 p.m. Saturday, June 22.
Where: Woodburn Public Library, 280 Garfield St.
Details: Free event; all ages welcome; copies of Peace Warrior, a bilingual collection of poems, will be given away at the conclusion of the program.
Wren's Nest in a Shed near Aurora
Three tiny eggs in thistledown
cupped in a swirl of grass
in the pocket of the tool belt
I hung on the wall of the shed
when it finally stood complete
will be three songs
offering local dignity for
my country enthralled in war
in distant lands.
cautiously, close the door
tenderly, let the future
ripen, grow wings,
and build songs.
Nido de chochín común en un cobertizo cerca de Aurora
Tres pequeños huevitos en suave vilano
acurrucados en un remolino de hierba
en el bolsillo del cinturón de herramientas
que colgué en la pared del cobertizo
cuando finalmente estuvo completo
habrán tres canciones
ofreciendo dignidad local para
mi país enredado en guerras
de tierras lejanas.
Un paso atrás
cautelosamente, cierra la puerta
tiernamente, deja que el futuro
madure, crezca alas,
y construya canciones.
—traducción Amelia Ettinger
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