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Early Morning: Remembering My Father, William Stafford Paperback – October 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press (October 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555973892
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555973896
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,107,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Noteworthy American poet William Stafford (1914-93) wrote early in the morning, before the first light. His son, Kim, remembers this and much more in his vivid, affectionate memoir, which approaches its subject in anecdotal rather than linear fashion. Kim, director of the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College in Oregon and himself the author of several books (A Thousand Friends of Rain; Having Everything Right), recalls his father's great love of his childhood home in Kansas, conscientious objector status during World War II, early days as a laborer, later days as a teacher, grueling work ethic, and approach to what he called "the great emergency of being alive." Stafford wrote poetry daily-some critics say he was too prolific-but, as revealed here, father and son shared other interests having nothing to do with writing. Kim's prose is poetic and lyrical, and he makes liberal use of excerpts from his father's poetry as a means of underscoring his own view of his father. Recommended for public and academic libraries.
Robert L. Kelly, Fort Wayne Community Schs., IN
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Writing with the same elegant precision that distinguished his collection of personal essays, Having Everything Right (1986), Stafford remembers his father, poet William Stafford, through a creative blend of memoir, poetry, and criticism. "His words seemed plain to some, his subjects ordinary," Stafford writes of his father's poems, which often celebrated the landscapes of his native Kansas and his inherited Oregon. "His response was to offer as an alternative to the loud and aggressive a quiet language of reconciliation." That profound quiet and that hard-won reconciliation--with nature, with other people, with himself--is everywhere evident in this moving account of the man and his work. Stafford spent WW II in a camp for conscientious objectors and was reviled by friends as a "conchie." His pacifism was unwavering, however, and became one of the hallmarks of his poetry and his character. If Stafford's story is free of confrontation, it is not free of tragedy. Moving fluidly from his father's poems and "daily writing" to memories of his life, Kim recalls the suicide of his older brother and its effect on the family. If quiet brought power to Stafford's poems, his often-protracted silence sometimes brought distance to his relations with his loved ones. And, yet, there is something touching and intimate about witnessing the son using his own words to bridge his father's silence. For anyone who has read William Stafford's verse and marveled at the way he could capture the pulse and power of life, his son's words help reveal the source of that power: "My father used to say that poems are not made of words, but of contexts." This remarkable tribute gives new life to those contexts. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Kim Stafford has taught since 1979 at Lewis and Clark College, where he is the founding director of the Northwest Writing Institute and co-director of the Documentary Studies program. He also serves as the literary executor for the estate of William Stafford. He has worked as an oral historian, letterpress printer, editor, photographer, teacher, and visiting writer in communities and colleges across the country, and in Italy, Scotland, and Bhutan. Stafford has published a dozen books of poetry and prose, including The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer's Craft; Early Morning: Remembering My Father, William Stafford; and Having Everything Right: Essays of Place. He has received two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, the Oregon Governor's Arts Award, and a Western States Book Award. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and children.


Customer Reviews

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This book bears reading and rereading.
Katherine Stewart
I read this book from the library the first week it was available after Stafford's death.
jakub
This is a powerful story of a brilliant poet.
Rae Hight

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Katherine Stewart on July 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
The relationship between father and son is illuminated by the father's poems and the son's prose in this sensitive biography of William Stafford by his son Kim. Our meditation and writing group has spent six months slowly absorbing this richness. This book bears reading and rereading.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Cristina Mauro on February 6, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I didn't so much read this book as I absorbed it...this is a book seeped in wisdom and quiet integrity. During my first reading I carried it around like a companion. There are many books that I have loved but there are few that I trust completely.

If you enjoy William Stafford's poetry then his son Kim is an expert guide into the deeper realms of his father's life and work. William Stafford is one of the few poets I know of whose life (the way he raised his children, educated his students and maintained his principles) blends seamlessly with his work.

Oftentimes great men are a bit pre-occupied being great men and forget to focus on the upbringing of their children. Kim Stafford shares with the reader the experience of being raised by a great artist who had the generosity of spirit and clear headedness to bring his artistry home with him and apply it to his family life.

Many reviewers describe Stafford as a remote and distant father...I would characterize him as an extremely careful father...who communicated love through reverence and shared experience.

Poetry and philosophy aside 'Early Morning' is also a lovely memoir that is deeply personal without being suffocating...artful without being pretentious. I envy anyone who gets to open its pages for a first reading.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. Wilder on September 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a book to savor. The second time through, I limited myself to only a page or two each night. The prose is exalted, the insights profound, and the depiction of William Stafford is unflinching and never sentimental. If you care about excellent writing, or being human, or about poetry, or especially about William Stafford's poetry, you will not regret reading this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J.M. Ryan on September 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"Early Morning" is a book to read and re-read. It offers a glimpse into the life and daily work habits of this enormously productive Oregon poet and teacher. Bill Stafford's "early morning" writing ritual, 20,000 poems over a lifetime, is a model for "taking stock" and learning in a life (whether one is a poet or simply an ordinary person making sense of the ups and downs in a life). On a personal level, I found this book, a son journaling and remembering his father, a helpful guide to "remembering" others not here (my own father). In brief, a field guide to "seeing" vs. not seeing and attending to what is essential in a life.
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