Some time when the river is ice ask me what mistakes I have made.

stafford croppedThis is the first line from a well-loved poem by William Stafford. He often writes about things that appear to be calm, but aren’t.  I think his poems are like that, too.  At first glance, they don’t seem very challenging. But it’s a mistake to read quickly because you can miss the powerful undercurrents. His poems stay with me and make me shudder hours later.  Many poets — but not all — hold him in high regard.  “I know of no other twentieth century American writer as much admired and respected as William Stafford,” wrote Ted Kooser.

William Stafford, Learning to Live in the World (San Diego: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1994), 11.

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