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Sample Autograph Signature: William Stafford

American poet and educator. William Stafford was born in Hutchinson, Kansas in 1914. He graduated from the University of Kansas in 1937, and enrolled in the University of Wisconsin in 1939 for graduate work in Economics. He switched back to Kansas in 1940 to pursue a master’s degree in English, but with the advent of World War II, he was drafted before he could complete his degree. A conscientious objector, Stafford spent the next four years in work camps in several states. During this period he met and married Dorothy Frantz, daughter of a minister of the Church of the Brethren. After working briefly as a teacher and relief worker following the war, Stafford completed his master’s degree at the University of Kansas in 1947, using his memoir of the conscientious objector years to produce his thesis, published as Down in My Heart. In 1948, he accepted a teaching post at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Stafford remained in Oregon to the end of his life, becoming accepted as a regional poet of the Pacific Northwest landscape. Taking a brief sojourn from Lewis and Clark, he earned his PhD in creative writing at the University of Iowa in 1954. Although his first book of poems, West of Your City, was not published until 1960, his subsequent output was prolific. Recipient of many awards and honors including the National Book Award for Poetry, William Stafford also served as Poetry Consultant for the Library of Congress from 1970 to 1971 (a post now named Poet Laureate of the United States). Those describing Stafford’s poetry often resort to such words as "simple," "clear," and "natural." But his simplicity was always deceptive: his poems go deep and their clarity appears only after exploring multiple layers. He was a superb poet of both the natural world and of the interior landscapes of the human heart. Those describing William Stafford often use the terms "humble," "modest," "gracious," "strong," and "non-violent." He was all of those, but above all he was a poet of pure vision, a human being of enormous heart and sensitivity, and a passionate pacifist. It was his habit to rise early every morning and to write a poem before the rest of the household stirred. He made no demands on these poems: he opened himself to allow the poem to speak through him. The poem he was writing on August 28, 1993 – the day that he died – contained the line: "Be ready for what God sends." Content provided by: The Prints and the Paper.

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