Poets to Read in Los Padres

A Saturday Afternoon to Remember William Stafford

By Rachel Weight

On Saturday, January 27, at 2 p.m., at the first crossing day
use area on Paradise Road in the Los Padres National Forest
(see
map here
), an interactive public poetry reading will be held in
honor of former U.S. poet laureate
William Stafford
. stafford.gif Born in January 1914, Stafford (pictured by Kim
Stafford in 1993) published 57 volumes of
poetry
before his death in 1993.

This reading is one of many taking place across the nation to
honor his life and work. Professor Perie Longo of Santa Barbara’s
Antioch University, who
teaches psychology and poetry therapy, and Jackson
Wheeler
, poet and author of
Swimming Past Iceland
, will be part of the
presentations.

Stafford was a
conscientious objector during World War II and performed
alternative civilian work in the Los Padres National
Forest
, building trails and fighting forest fires. The Los
Padres site was chosen because of the profound impact his
experience there had on his work. The Paradise Road ranger station
has also set up an exhibit honoring Stafford and the time he spent
at the camp.

The event will be hosted by Westmont professor of English,
Paul Willis, who explained, “When I discovered
that one of Stafford’s formative life experiences took place at the
Los Prietos Camp in Santa Barbara’s back yard, I knew I wanted to
host a reading there in his memory for the community to enjoy.”

Members of the community are also invited to share their
favorite Stafford poems during the event. For more information or
precise directions, please e-mail Paul Willis at willis@westmont.edu.

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