Tuesday, May 21, 2013

New Photographs of Stafford and Friends During the 1950s

Kenny Johnson, William Stafford, and Bob Dusenbery
at Mt. Jefferson, 1958. Kenny Johnson Collection.
During the past few years the staff at the Lewis & Clark Special Collections have been processing William Stafford's immense collection of photographs (over 16,000 images). Most of these photos were taken by Stafford during his travels to poetry readings and writing workshops. The collection also includes various images of Stafford taken by other photographers. As one would expect, the bulk of these photographs were taken after 1963 when Stafford was awarded the National Book Award for Traveling through the Dark. 

Recently, Lewis & Clark received a gift that fills in some important gaps in the visual documentation of Stafford's life during the 1950s and early 1960s. Steve Johnson, the son of Stafford's close friend Kenny Johnson donated a small collection of slides that feature Stafford and the families of some of his closest friends including the Johnsons, Dusenberys, and Paulys. The image above shows Kenny Johnson, William Stafford, and Bob Dusenbery during a trip to Mt. Jefferson in 1958. The three men first became friends in 1948 when Stafford was hired to teach at Lewis & Clark College. The photo above hints at the intellectual camaraderie that the three shared throughout their lives. Scholars interested in Stafford's correspondence might be surprised at the lack of letters to other poets that include substantive intellectual discussions. The obvious explanation for this absence is that Stafford reserved this kind of discourse for his closest friends and colleagues in Portland. Stafford's correspondence with Kenny Johnson provides striking examples of the candor and intellectual banter between the two (the finding aid for this collection can be viewed at: http://nwda.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv55599/). Lewis & Clark College is excited to have this new slice of documentary evidence of Stafford's life during this period.

Jeremy Skinner
Special Collections Librarian, Lewis & Clark College

Photographs of a television broadcast on Portland's KATU station featuring Lewis & Clark English Department members. Top image (left to right): William Lucht, Kenny Johnson, and Bob Dusenbery. Bottom image (left to right): Bob Dusenbery, William Stafford, and Ted Braun. The broadcast was a special Christmas poetry reading in 1963. Kenny Johnson Collection.