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.
Singer Come from Afar
Publication Date: April 6, 2021
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
Wild Honey, Tough Salt
Publication Date: April 23, 2019
Wild Honey, Tough Salt gathers citizen poems for tough times—with testaments for world community, spells for peace, earth blessings, and family consolations.
Wild Honey, Tough Salt offers a prismatic view of Earth citizenship, where we must be ambidextrous now. The book takes a stern look inward, calling for sturdy character and supple spirit, and a bold look outward, seeking ways to engage troubling grief. The book begins with poems that witness for a buoyant life in a difficult world: wandering New Orleans in a trance, savoring the life of artist Tove Jansson, reading the fine print on the Mexican peso and the Scottish five-pound note. Clues to untapped energy lie everywhere by the lens of poetry. The book then moves to considerations of the worst in us—torture and war. How to recruit a child soldier? How to be married to the heartless guard? What to say to a child enamored by bullets? In the third section, the book offers a spangle of poems blessing the earth: wren song, bud growth, river’s eager way with obstacles. And the final section offers poems of affection: infant clarities of home, long marriage in dog years, a consoling campfire in the yard when all seems lost. The book will soften your trouble, and give you spirit for the days ahead.
“Kim Stafford is the most humane poet going, devotedly writing every day, sharing encouragement and generous care everywhere. His eloquent lines, so deeply attentive to each moment, shimmer with breathtaking leaps and humble wisdom. They will help you live. Especially now.”—Naomi Shihab Nye
Wild Honey, Tough Salt demonstrates Kim Stafford’s remarkable talent for coming to the heart. These poems rise beautifully and naturally from their settings, whether a morning in a forest, or inside an ancient myth, or high on a ridge above Big Basin. Wild Honey, Tough Salt contains poems of quest, reconciliation, and joy, offering the reader enlightening variations on the essence of heart and self in communion. “Everything spoke, and I was / nothing but listening.”—Pattiann Rogers, Burroughs Medal winner for Lifetime Achievement in Nature Poetry