Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems by William Stafford, review by Shelly Walston

Kansas-native poet William Stafford had a prolific career, writing over 22,000 poems, over 3,000 of which were published. His lush, though late-in-life career, revolved around his daily musings--he kept a journal in which he wrote daily--and his precise yet thoughtful observations. In Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems, the reader gets a glimpse of what makes Stafford such a memorable weaver of words.

The collection starts with "A Story That Could Be True," asking the reader to reimagine him- or herself as an unknown, having been told the wrong story of his or her parentage.  "When the great wind come / and the robberies of rain / you stand on the corner shivering. / The people who go by-- / you wonder at their calm." The language of the poem, like many of Stafford's poems, is entirely accessible, inviting the reader to build meaning from the sketches Stafford dilineates. 

Stafford spent two years of his life, from 1970-71, as the Poet Laureate of the United States, and his poems continue to resonate after his death in 1993. He died of a heartattack after penning a poem in the morning: "You don't have to / prove anything,' my mother said. 'Just be ready / for what God sends." 

Kim Stafford, William's son, will visit the store on Tuesday, April 1. Click HERE for more information. 


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Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems of William Stafford Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555976644
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - January 7th, 2014