Prairie Prescription

by Kim Stafford

Prairie Prescription

Invited to read at a national humanities conference in Omaha, Nebraska, in the fall of 2009 with then-U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser, Oregon poet Kim Stafford on his way to the reading was inspired by a sudden flood of family stories and memories about Nebraska and the Midwest, which was home to his mother and grandparents and other family members. Having just passed his 60th birthday, Stafford writes in the preface to this chapbook that these “Ten Nebraska Poems” all came in a rush while traveling to the ancestral prairie and while preparing to keynote a public humanities conference exploring “The Landscape of the Heart.” Prairie Prescription is a folio of epiphany, poems inspired by family photographs, diaries, letters and tales passed down from one generation to another, reflecting on the grassroots of a place and a family.

Kim Stafford grew up in Oregon, Iowa, Indiana, California, and Alaska, following his parents as they taught and traveled through the West. He is the author of a dozen books of poetry and prose, and the director of the Northwest Writing Institute and the William Stafford Center at Lewis & Clark College, where he has taught since 1979. He holds a Ph.D. in medieval literature from the University of Oregon, and has worked as a printer, photographer, oral historian, editor, and visiting writer at a host of colleges and schools. His book, Having Everything Right, won a citation for excellence from the Western States Book Awards in 1986. Stafford has received creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Governor’s Arts Award for his contributions to Oregon’s literary culture, and his work has been featured on National Public Radio. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and children.

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