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Junkyard Thoughts

By William Stafford / November 13, 1992



WILLIAM STAFFORD is one of America's most noted poets and has received many prizes for his work, including the National Book Award for Poetry, a Guggenheim Award, and the Shelley Memorial Award. A native of Kansas, he now makes his home in Oregon. Writing about Stafford, poet Donald Hall has said "... Stafford's poems show forth goodness and compassion. These qualities together with affection and shrewd reticence make him unusual in the great zoo of contemporary American poetry. ... Much poetry will - mu st - represent cruelty, pain, torture, lust, madness, egotism, and selfishness. But there is an unexamined and neurotic notion that only these qualities equal seriousness; Stafford gives lie to this currency." Around each thing on earth put its halo and find Heaven right there, the way snowflakes decide once and for all what to be and then freeze, or little chunks of metal that glitter, angels of barbed wire, twisted vines, tarnished medallions. And the people who lumber by harboring their odd-shaped secrets, let's find them, even the broken ones, perfect. For - about how to be - who can say, except who picks a shape and cherishes it, amid what might have been nothing? That's a good brokenness, to go around like this all the time, trying to rescue the world.

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