Hood River County is reading William Stafford

Hood River County Reads, an annual community reading adventure, returns this month.

Hood River County, along with many Oregon communities, is celebrating what would have been the 100th birthday or Oregon’s quintessential poet William Stafford.

Pick up free copies of “Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems” at the official kick-offs of Hood River County Reads: Sunday, March 16, 2-3:30 p.m. at the Hood River Library and Tuesday, March 17, 5-7 p.m. at the Cascade Locks and Parkdale libraries.

Stafford’s son, Kim, will be giving a public reading at Hood River Library on Sunday, April 27, at 2 p.m. This project is sponsored by the Friends of the Hood River County Library.

William Stafford was the Library of Congress’ Poet Laureate from 1970-71 and Oregon’s Poet Laureate from 1975-1990. He published more than 3,000 poems but wrote more than 22,000. Stafford has often been compared to Robert Frost and collaborated frequently with another well-known poet, Robert Bly. Author and poet James Dickey called Stafford one of those poets “who pour out rivers of ink, all on good poems.”

Stafford also was well-known for being a conscientious objector during World War II. Stafford is father of noted essayist Kim Stafford, who is the literary executor of his father’s estate.

In addition to “Ask Me,” there are several books by and about Stafford for people to enjoy. “The Osage Orange Tree” highlights Stafford’s skill with prose as well as poetry.

Kids can join in on Hood River County Reads this year with “Everyone Out Here Knows,” Stafford’s poem about Bigfoot. If you’d like to learn more about Stafford’s thoughts on war, try “Every War has Two Losers.”

Finally, Kim Stafford has two books about his family: “Early Morning: Remembering My Father, William Stafford,” and “100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do: How my Brother Disappeared.”

These books are available for checkout at the Hood River, Cascade Locks, and Parkdale libraries.

The goal of Hood River County Reads is to encourage readers of all ages to read and discuss books. Hood River County Reads titles represent the diversity of the Hood River County community and can be shared widely throughout the area.

Some previous books include “Stubborn Twig,” by Lauren Kessler; “The Circuit,” by Francisco Jiménez; and “Ricochet River,” by Robin Cody.

Hood River County Reads is sponsored and supported by the Friends of the Hood River County Library, with additional support from the Starseed Foundation, Hood River County Education Foundation, Hood River County Library Foundation, Hood River County Cultural Trust, and generous individuals.

Everyone is welcome to come enjoy the many events connected to Hood River County Reads:

n March 20, 6:30-8 p.m.: Library book club discusses “100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do” (Hood River Library)

n April 6, 2-3:30 p.m.: Readings by current Oregon Poet Laureate Paulann Petersen (Hood River Library)

n April 13, 2-3:30 p.m.: Los Portenos Theater of Portland, presents “Words that Burn: A dramatization of the World War II experiences of William Stafford, Lawson Inada, and Guy Gabaldon in their own words” (Hood River Library)

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