Premieres January 16 at 8:00 p.m. on OPB TV

Oregon Art Beat returns this month with the premiere of a half-hour special dedicated to the art, life and legacy of famous Oregon poet William Stafford. In conjunction with the 100th anniversary of his birth, “Discovering William Stafford” will air on Thursday, January 16 at 8 p.m. on OPB TV.

Stafford’s poetry appealed to a wide range of individuals across all walks of life. His influence can be felt by everyone from literary artists to public figures, Oregonians, and the thousands of students he taught over the decades as an English professor at Lewis and Clark College. 

In this special, Art Beat takes a look at the life, career and impact of the beloved poet laureate, lifelong pacifist and National Book Award winner. Through extensive archival stills, footage and interviews with Stafford’s children, colleagues and fans, they will delve into the significant legacy he has left behind.

Segments in the program include:

  • Readings of Stafford’s poetry by literary luminaries such as Garrison Keillor and Salman Rushdie and artists including Willy Vlautin, Storm Large and more. In celebration of the William Stafford centennial, additional readings will also be featured in future Oregon Art Beat episodes this season and across other OPB platforms such as radio, TV, online and in social media during the month of January and beyond.
  • A look at Stafford’s life through extensive Stafford archival material at Lewis and Clark College. Learn about Stafford’s time in a conscientious objector camp during World War II, his life as a literary superstar after winning the National Book Award and insight into family life.
  • Deconstruction of Stafford’s work, including visuals of working drafts of his poems, with insight from some of today’s writers including Mary Szybist, who recently won the National Book Award for poetry 50 years after Stafford.
  • A look at how Stafford’s legacy lives on through the work of artists today. Hear from several contemporary artists who have been inspired and touched by his craft.

The Oregon Art Beat special  “Discovering William Stafford” will air Thursday, January 16 at 8:00 p.m. on OPB TV. It will also be distributed to public television stations nationwide in April 2014, in honor of National Poetry Month.

For more information, please visit A video of this Oregon Art Beat special will be available online the day after it airs at

On OPB Radio on January 11 at noon, weekly arts and culture show State of Wonder will feature a roundtable discussing the lives of poets. Additionally, on January 17—the centennial of William Stafford’s birth—OPB’s daily radio show at noon Think Out Loud will discuss more in-depth Stafford’s life and legacy.


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William Stafford Archive/Lewis and Clark College

William Stafford Archive/Lewis and Clark College

William Stafford Archive/Lewis and Clark College