Oregon Poet Laureate Kim Stafford believes writing is a “pleasure we need not deny ourselves.”

“Poetry is a skill everyone has — when they let themselves use language in a way that is intuitive, playful, courageous, thoughtful and musical,” Stafford told Coast Weekend. “It’s an aptitude we all have, and we all can grow.”

Stafford is one of three Pacific Northwest poets featured at the fifth annual Manzanita PoetryFest 2019, taking place Friday through Sunday, March 15 through 17. He will be joined by Andrea Hollander and John Brehm.

PoetryFest is a series of weekend workshops and readings at the Hoffman Center and the North Tillamook Library. This Manzanita Writers Series event is hosted by the library and the Hoffman Center for the Arts.

Though the workshops are currently full, organizers encourage you to join the waiting list as space might open up (email info@hoffmanarts.org). Hollander’s workshop focuses on the structural integrity of quality poetry, while Brehm’s focuses on the emotional nature of human impulse.

The readings are open to the public and will be hosted at the Hoffman Center on Saturday, March 16. Stafford’s reading starts at 4:30 p.m., Hollander and Brehm’s at 7 p.m., followed by a PoetryFest participant open mic. Space at the Stafford reading is limited to about 60 people, so get there early to reserve a seat.

Write to learn

Stafford, the author of 12 books of poetry and prose, is a busy man.

“I respond to requests from communities all over the state, from the coast to the Alvord Desert, from Astoria to Klamath Falls. It’s a joy to see so much of Oregon as I travel to share poetry,” he said of his recent travels.

On top of the statewide touring he’s recently undertaken, he’s also the director of the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College and a professor of 40 years.

“Writing and teaching, in my experience, are a great marriage, and the common ground is learning. I teach in order to learn with my students, and I write in order to learn by writing.”

Why the Pacific Northwest?

“I’ve lived in many Northwest places, and each has poured sensation, imagery, story, weather, history and local knowledge of all kinds into my psyche. When I pick up a pen, all those rivers, farms, mountains, wrens, storms and hidden places course through my hand onto the page. How can I help it?”

The Writers Series has other upcoming events to keep an eye on. On Saturday, April 20, Jennifer Haupt, author of “In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills,” and Liz Prato, author of “Volcanoes, Palm Trees & Privilege: Essays on Hawai’i,” will read at the Hoffman Center.

For information on the event or the Hoffman Center, visit hoffmanarts.org/events/poetryfest/

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