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Oregon's got a new official man of letters

Kim Stafford was born and raised in Oregon, and earned a Ph.D. in medieval literature from the University of Oregon.

Kim StaffordKim Stafford, the founder and director of the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, will succeed Elizabeth Woody as the state's ninth poet laureate.

A committee of 20 poets, writers and "cultural leaders" reviewed nominations and recommended Stafford, who was officially named poet laureate by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown this week.

Stafford was born and raised in Oregon, and earned a Ph.D. in medieval literature from the University of Oregon. He's written more than a dozen books, most recently "100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do," which is a memoir about his relationship with his brother, Bret, who took his own life. Some of Stafford's recent poetry has touched on politics, according to his website.

In his new role, Stafford will give up to 20 readings per year "in settings across the state to inform community, business and state leaders about the value and importance of poetry and creative expression." The poet laureate is a two-year appointment, and the program is funded by the Oregon Cultural Trust, which was created by the legislature in 2002 and makes grants to support the state's arts and culture.

The trust's money comes from donors, who when they make a gift to a recognized cultural organization and make a matching gift to the trust, can write their trust donation off as a state tax credit.

State poet laureates receive a $10,000 honorarium per year and up to $10,000 annually for travel costs.

"There are many ways to serve this state and among them is clarity of language and passion of purpose, which may travel from one soul to another through poetry," Brown said in a statement this week. "Kim Stafford is one of our state's most generous literary teachers and I am proud to appoint him as our next Poet Laureate."

It runs in the family: Stafford's dad, William Stafford, was the state's poet laureate from 1974 to 1989.