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Book Title

Ask Me

100 Essential Poems of William Stafford
Author 1
William Stafford; Edited by Kim Stafford
Poem Excerpt
Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.
—from “Ask Me”
In celebration of the poet’s centennial, Ask Me collects one hundred of William Stafford’s essential poems. As a conscientious objector during World War II, while assigned to Civilian Public Service camps, Stafford began his daily writing practice, a lifelong early morning ritual of witness. His poetry reveals the consequences of violence, the daily necessity of moral decisions, and the bounty of art. Selected and with a note by Kim Stafford, Ask Me presents the best from a profound and original American voice.
“Stafford . . . left behind a body of work that represents some of the finest poetry written during the second half of the twentieth century.”—Library Journal
“William Stafford’s quiet presence in the landscape of American poetry in my lifetime has been a kind of continuing reassurance.”—W. S. Merwin

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“In our time there has been no poet who revived human hearts and spirits more convincingly than William Stafford.”—Naomi Shihab Nye

About the Author

William  Stafford
Credit: Kim Stafford

William Stafford (1914–1993) was the author of more than sixty books, including Traveling through the Dark, winner of the National Book Award, and The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems. He was appointed Poetry Consultant for the Library of Congress (1971–1972), and he was named Oregon Poet Laureate. He taught for many years at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and mentored countless writers around the world.

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Kim  Stafford
Credit: Bob Peterson
Kim Stafford is a writer and director of the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College. He is the author of a dozen books of poetry and prose. For his book, Having Everything Right, he won a citation for excellence from the Western States Book Awards. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and children.

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  • "Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems is a wonderful one-volume introduction to Stafford's poetry."Oregonian
  • Ask Me is a must-have collection. . . . The poems flow so seamlessly, with such a singular voice, that Stafford seems to be addressing readers directly.”The Christian Science Monitor
  • “This affordable selection of [Stafford’s] best work renews his presence in American literary life.”—The Kansas City Star
  • “In this selection of one-hundred poems published to celebrate his centenary, Stafford emerges as an allegorist, a messenger.”Booklist
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