The Rogue Valley’s 2016 William Stafford Birthday Celebration was held at Southern Oregon University January 21, in the same room it has been for the last eighteen years.
An unplanned theme of opposition to the take-over of the Malheur Refuge was set for the program with the opening reading of Stafford’s “Malheur Before Dawn” and sung by Daniel Sperry, Jeffri Lynn Carrington of the Southern Oregon Repertory Singers, and Anna Christensen of Montana Soul. Poets carried the theme further with poems of reconciliation and reason.
Claudia Alick, producer of Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Green Show for eight years and organizer of regular open mic rap and hip-hop readings, gave a dramatic, gospel-voice reading of “A Ritual to Read to Each Other.” She accomplished what makes us eager for each of these events: the opportunity to hear even favorite poems in new voices giving us renewed insight into William Stafford’s work.
Other featured poets were Kathleen Pyle, Steve Dieffenbacher, Kim Hamilton, Dan Kaufman, and James Anderson. Thirteen from the audience also read Stafford poems, seven attending their first William Stafford Birthday Celebration.
By Patty Wixon