Poems & Recordings

I am the seedKim Stafford
00:00 / 03:18

Poem accompanied on harp by Bethany Lee

Lessons from a TreeKim Stafford
00:00 / 02:39

         I Am the Seed


Every chance I get, any place I fit,

in a cleft of grit, in ravine or pit 

by ancient wit my husk I split—

            I am the seed.


I fell to the ground without a sound,

by rainfall drowned, by sunlight found,

by wonder crowned, by luck profound—

            I am the seed.


After fiery thief, after bout of grief,

though life is brief I sprout relief, 

with tiny leaf, beyond belief—

            I am the seed.


Up I rise to seek the prize

from all that dies, by bold surprise,

before your eyes, small and wise—

            I am the seed.


I am the seed, small as a bead.

Tell me your need. Your hunger I’ll feed—

any trouble you’re in, I will begin,

for I am the seed!

      Lessons from a Tree


Seed split. Root sprout. Bud leaf. 

Delve deep. Hold fast. Reach far.

Sway. Bow. Lean. Loom. 


Climb high. Stand tall. Last long.

Seed. Thicken. Billow. Shade.

Grain. Ring. Grow. Sow seed. 


Whine. Sing. Flicker. Glimmer.

Rise by pluck, child of luck,

lightning struck survivor.


Hollow. Glisten. Witness. Seed again. 

Remember. Testify. Thicken.

Burn. Bleed. Heal. Seed. Learn. 


Nest. Host. Guard. Honor. Savor. Seed again.

Fade. Groan. Sag. Crack. Split.

Soften. Slough. Grip. Gather. 


Then arc. Swish. Sail. Fall. Settle.

Log. Stump. Slump. Sag. 

Surrender. Offer. Enrich.


Be duff. Enough.

Love at the Butteville Store


Poem by Kim Stafford set as a song

by Gary Burman, and performed

by Pipedance.

Poem text.

Performance audio:

Love At The Butteville Store_Pipedance.m
Tove Jansson's IslandKim Stafford
00:00 / 04:13

     Tove Jansson’s Island


They say her father sculpted in bronze

and her mother designed postage stamps—

great forms and fine detail her first food.

Little hands silently lifting a burin

or mallet, getting the heft of creation.


Sun and pollen, ruby ants in a row,

her ears filled with the breath of waves,

her schooling a blur of breathless pleasures

far from anything countable. (No boy

could match a bird’s fine wit.)


When she was grown, a boat

would take her to the island without

landing, and she would leap into the sea 

to guide the crate of a summer’s simple 

food to shore, as the boat circled away.


No clock or voice, no growl of motor

or purr of phone, she would delve

into the bounty of her young silence

to hear songs she let go easy into wind, 

but dozing became dreams, dreams stories


old and odd and shapely, bristling

with thoughts more like pine cones

or glittering seams in bedrock

than anything anyone had ever

known—stories of summer light,


of star seeds concentric around hints,

stones hefted like sorrows, leaves watched

unfurling hour by hour, lit feather

optimists lifting away across the sea

in the general drift of hidden happiness.


When autumn came, the boat

      brought exile.

Then she wintered by city ways—

streetcar clang, wires across the sky,

the naked glory of creation dressed

in small decisions, minor laws.


But summer, summer, summer … story,

story, story … until old, she finished: hut

empty, pages topped by a stone the sea

shaped with its scarf of centuries.

Kim Stafford workshops…              






Kim Stafford online generative writing workshops

July 2020 to February 2021




Citizen Poems: Writing Poetry for the Human Project

“The more I write poems,” said Elizabeth Woody, “the less it’s about what the poem is, and more about who the poem serves.” Writing can be a habit that enriches the individual life, and publishing can bring this enrichment to others, and perhaps lead to money and fame. Or—writing and sharing work composed as a gift of advocacy for your heroes, for places, and for communities—this form of creative devotion could be your true vocation. In this workshop, open to writers at all stages of experience, we will explore the notion of “citizen poems,” which are written not abouta subject, but fora person, a place, a cause, a community. We will practice writing little anthems, manifestoes, and blessings.


hosted by Willamette Writers / one-day class / Thursday, July 30, 9:30am-3:30pm


(third workshop listed)




Earth Verse

When trouble comes in the human world, there may be a little story from the wild that can offer consolation. From the Gnomic Versesin Old English, to the Tao te Ching, and the writings of Dorothy Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, and Mary Oliver, we have cherished lyric remedies speaking the language of earth for human comfort. In this workshop, we will harvest close observations from the Playa landscape and compose an archive of consolations for use as our need comes.


hosted by Playa at Summer Lake / Saturday-Sunday, August 1-2, 9am-3pm

Details here soon:





Pandemic Diary for Earth

In the Corona Virus era, someone said, It's as if Earth has sent us to our rooms to think about what we've done. Out of this time, how might our lives become more measured, local, and sustaining? In this online workshop, we'll write episodes of observation and thought about how this era of shelter in place might temper our frenzy, and turn us toward better ways to live. We'll compose poems, stories, letters, and other forms to offer lament, ways to savor the simpler life, and prophecy about where we might go from here as individuals, and as citizens of Earth.


hosted by Sitka Center for Art & Ecology, Saturday-Sunday / August 8-9, 10am-4pm

Details here soon:




Pandemic Poems for Lament, Solace, & Testimony

This is a one-day generative poetry workshop. Drawing on short readings from writers who have addressed pandemics—Giovanni Boccaccio, Daniel Defoe, Albert Camus, and writers addressing our predicament now—we will write poems to report personal experience, interrogate the public narrative, honor what’s lost, and celebrate what’s been clarified. The pandemic has hit the re-set button on our individual lives, our communities and our nation. Pandemic poems can re-frame what we now know we need, don’t need, and must envision. 


hosted by Richard Hugo House / date TBA (one day workshop)

Details here soon:




Courage to Lead through Writing: We Begin a Better Nation through Writing

Join us for a virtual Courage to Lead retreat designed to offer participants the time and space to reflect on the complex, challenging, and changing dimensions of leadership, rooted in the belief that effective leadership flows from the identity and integrity of the individual. Empower and deepen your leadership during these challenging times by using writing as a tool for learning and leading.


hosted by Lewis & Clark College, Thursday 4pm – Saturday at noon / October 1-3





Daily Writing in the Spirit of William Stafford

In a time when wars don’t stop, when pandemic strikes, jobs end, climate shifts, and life needs constant reinvention, your daily writing practice can be a way to navigate change and sustain the spirit.

     Inspired by the 50-year writing practice of William Stafford, this online workshop will include reading of classic poems and responding to writing prompts designed to deepen your own process for creation.

     We will delve into sources for starting, ways of revising, responding to work in progress, and sending forth our testimony to a world hungry for meaning. Open to all levels of experience.

     The class will utilize the online platform Zoom, with each of the two days designed as a series of conversations, writing prompts, solo writing time, then sharing and discussion.


hosted by Lewis & Clark College, Saturday-Sunday, December  5-6, 9am-5pm





Oregon Writing Project: Poems for a Better Nation

In these days of frenzy and confusion, some bit of news, a scrap of story, a friend’s question, or some other morsel of language from the world may long to become a song, a poem, half a poem—may long to catch something mysterious about this life. A footnote to the inexpressible.

     In this online Oregon Writing Project course, we will celebrate the winsome habit of poetry to turn small discoveries into the half-page where we say much in a few words.

We’ll read lively texts, start many lyric experiments, and talk along the way about how to use this quirky and welcoming writing practice to calm the self, and to explore with students and share with friends.

     No previous experience is necessary for participation in this course, which is open to all teachers and writers. The class will utilize the online platform Zoom, with each of the two days designed to develop a learning community through a series of conversations, writing prompts, solo writing time, then sharing and discussion.


hosted by Lewis & Clark College, Saturday-Sunday, February 20-21, 9am-5pm





Later in 2021              


January or February, week-long Writing Retreat in Guanajuato, Mexico


February 11-14, 2021 (tentative date), Writing Retreat at Santa Sabina, San Rafael, California



April 21-30, 2021, week-long Writing Retreat in Ireland



May 2021,  week-long Writing Retreat in Assisi, Italy