The discovery of a previously unpublished work by a renowned author is always cause for celebration.
But when that writer is national and Oregon Poet Laureate William Stafford (1914-1993), on the eve of his 100th birthday, the joy multiplies exponentially.
In FY2014, Tavern Books, a new Portland nonprofit dedicated to the revival of rare, out-of-print poetry collections or translations, received a $5,000 grant from the Cultural Trust to publish, catalog and distribute Stafford’s 1954 creative dissertation for his PhD from University of Iowa.
Winterward, a collection of 35 William Stafford poems, 10 of which have never been published before, includes an also-previously-unpublished scholarly preface by Stafford. The book is available December 14.
“Some will call it his first book,” said Tavern Books Managing Editor, Natalie Garyet. The poems, she explained, were originally grouped as a collection. “It wasn’t random,” she said. “He’d compiled it but he hadn’t tried to publish it.”
Tavern Books became a nonprofit 501C3 in 2012 and received the first Trust grant it applied for, a rare occurrence among applicants. “The Trust grant was huge for us,” said Garyet. “It allowed us to double our print run.” The infusion of funds also allowed the small publishing house to release Winterward in time for the Stafford Centennial celebration in 2014. “Without the grant, we might not have been able to publish it this year.”
Stafford spent much of his adult life in Lake Oswego and is considered an Oregon cultural icon. Said Garyet, “The place he was in was so immediate to him. That comes across in his poetry. He has been a poetic spokesperson for Oregon and Oregon has been a diligent tender of his legacy.”
The launch of Winterward is part of a much bigger celebration of Stafford’s Centennial Birthday across the state, nationwide and internationally that begins in January 2014. The Oregon Heritage Commission recently declared Stafford’s Centennial a statewide celebration.
The release party for Winterward will include readings by Kim Stafford, Paulann Petersen, Paul Merchant, Carl Adamshick and other Oregon luminaries. It is happening Saturday, December 14, 7-9pm at First Unitarian Church (1011 SW 12th Ave), in Portland; it is free and open to the public.