Ann, thanks so much for sharing this. Kim Stafford happened to be on the program of the Media Arts Society, an annual meeting of Colorado teachers, in October of 1993. He was reading poetry with his old guitar along, Sandburg-style. His father, William Stafford, had died that summer, and Kim was still night-wandering in grief.
I was also on the program, doing my one-woman show, "Willa Cather Speaks," that
Mildred and Sue had helped to launch with a WCPM mini-grant application to the Nebraska Humanities Council in 1989.
Kim was on the front row of my performance as the conference kicked off Thursday afternoon (he was not on until Sunday but told me later he had arrived early to see "Willa Cather Speaks.") His mother Dorothy and her sister Helen had spent time in Red Cloud when they were young and his father was born in Kansas, so they were all "Cather people." His Aunt Helen was particularly fond of all things Cather.
I thought Kim was a woman when I saw his name in the program, so I had no idea who he was (I had toured eight or ten states by then but not yet made it to Oregon.)
The curly-haired poet led a standing ovation and then caught up to me as I was leaving the auditorium, still in middy blouse and tie. He said, "Miss Cather, have you et?" and we took every meal together, that wonderful weekend at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. When a friend of mine drove down from Boulder, the three of us hiked at the Garden of the Gods. I especially remember the late-night talks, walking the beautiful grounds, as he shared his grief and family stories. He was divorced at the time but met his fine wife Perrin a few months later. When they set their wedding date in 1994 or 95, Kim wrote an Oregon humanities mini-grant, with the Fish Camp writers circle co-sponsoring , so that I could do a six-town tour of Oregon right before the wedding. I had been to other western states en route, including Nebraska, and brought his Aunt Helen one of those little wooden crates of jams & jellies from the WCPM store. She was thrilled, and insisted on sharing them at breakfast the morning after the wedding.
Kim is filling his father's shoes admirably as Oregon's state poet. We don't see each other often, since my health keeps me from traveling (my last research and performance trips were last fall), so this poem brought back many joyous memories. I wish I could think I helped inspire it, but Miss Cather did that all on her own.