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Every Day a Poem

William Stafford, 1914–1993

It would be easy enough, in the vast ocean of books brought to us, to overlook a handful of pamphlets, chapbooks, and slim volumes of poetry. But experience has taught us here at Powell's that often the brightest jewels lie hidden in the bottom of boxes, waiting to be plucked. And there is something so compelling about the hunt.

It happened last week — a truckload of books was dropped at our Northwest warehouse for our buyers. I don't mean an economy-sized pickup, either: it was a ten-foot U-Haul. Buyers Gary M. and Nita G. worked their way through the piles and found, buried deep amongst the thousands of books, almost twenty signed books and pamphlets by William Stafford.

Named to the post of Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (Poet Laureate) in 1970, he became Oregon's Poet Laureate in 1975.

Born in Kansas, Stafford lived for many years in Lake Oswego, Oregon. He wrote every day, and composed over twenty thousand poems. He died on August 28, 1993, having written the line "be ready for what God sends" earlier that morning.

The collection of signed Stafford includes Passwords, Hearing Voices, How to Hold Your Arms When It Rains, and my favorite of the group, Fin, Feather, Fur.

Stafford fans should keep an eye on our poetry section online in the upcoming weeks, because we're not done processing the signed copies just yet. Upcoming signed copies will include Stories That Could Be True, Down in My Heart, A Glass Face in the Rain, and Segues.

Other sterling collections that we've bought in the recent past have included over 1,000 opera titles, almost 500 boxing books (pugilism, not industrial packaging), books on the art of falconry, and a lifetime's collection of cookbooks that we here at the warehouse referred to as "Baker's Delight."

It is a sea of books here at Powell's, and sometimes the current leads us to great things.

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Kirsten Berg has worked as a used book buyer for Powell's for more than 10 years. She is experienced with technical and general reading material, and enjoys working with out-of-print and rare material the most.

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