William Edgar Stafford (January 17, 1914 – August 28, 1993) was an American poet and pacifist, and the father of poet and essayist Kim Stafford. He was appointed the twentieth Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1970.
Stafford was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, the oldest of three children in a highly literate family. During the Depression, his family moved from town to town in an effort to find work for his father. Stafford helped contribute to family income by delivering newspapers, working in sugar beet fields, raising vegetables, and working as an electrician's apprentice. During this time he had a near death experience in a local swimming hole.
He graduated from high school in the town of Liberal, Kansas in 1933. After attending junior college, he received a B.A. from the University of Kansas in 1937. He was drafted into the United States armed forces in 1941, while pursuing his master's degree at the University of Kansas, but declared himself a conscientious objector. As a registered pacifist, he performed alternative service from 1942 to 1946 in the Civilian Public Service camps. The work consisted of forestry and soil conservation work in Arkansas, California, and Illinois for $2.50 per month. While working in California in 1944, he met and married Dorothy Hope Frantz with whom he later had four children (Bret, who died in 1988; Kim, writer; Kit, artist; Barbara, artist). He received his M.A. from the University of Kansas in 1947. His master's thesis, the prose memoir Down In My Heart, was published in 1948 and described his experience in the forest service camps. He taught English for one academic semester (1947) to 11th graders (juniors) at Chaffey Union High School, Ontario California. That same year he moved to Oregon to teach at Lewis & Clark College. In 1954, he received a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. Stafford taught for one academic year (1955–1956) in the English department at Manchester College in Indiana, a college affiliated with the Church of the Brethren where he had received training during his time in Civilian Public Service. The following year (1956–57), he taught at San Jose State in California, and the next year returned to the faculty of Lewis & Clark...
Quotes by William Stafford
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