‘Discovering William Stafford’ airs Jan. 16

Portland — Oregon Art Beat returns this month with the premiere of a half-hour special dedicated to the art, life and legacy of famous Oregon poet William Stafford. In conjunction with the 100th anniversary of his birth, “Discovering William Stafford” will air on Thursday, Jan. 16, at 8 p.m. on OPB.

Stafford’s poetry appealed to a wide range of individuals across all walks of life. His influence can be felt by everyone from literary artists to public figures, Oregonians, and the thousands of students he taught over the decades as an English professor at Lewis and Clark College.

In this special, Art Beat takes a look at the life, career and impact of the beloved poet laureate, lifelong pacifist and National Book Award winner. Through extensive archival stills, footage and interviews with Stafford’s children, colleagues and fans, they will delve into the significant legacy he has left behind. Segments in the program include:

n Readings of Stafford’s poetry by literary luminaries such as Garrison Keillor and Salman Rushdie and artists including Willy Vlautin, Storm Large and more.

In celebration of the William Stafford centennial, additional readings will also be featured in future Oregon Art Beat episodes this season and across other OPB platforms such as radio, TV, online and in social media during the month of January and beyond.

n A look at Stafford’s life through extensive Stafford archival material at Lewis and Clark College. Learn about Stafford's time in a conscientious objector camp during World War II, his life as a literary superstar after winning the National Book Award and insight into family life.

n Deconstruction of Stafford’s work, including visuals of working drafts of his poems, with insight from some of today's writers including Mary Szybist, who recently won the National Book Award for poetry 50 years after Stafford.

The program will look at how Stafford’s legacy lives on through the work of artists today.

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