Kim Stafford was classified as a Conscientious Objector during the Vietnam War.
"It was the assumed way in my family [Conscientious Objection]. I couldn't imagine, I guess I was very ignorant of the possibility of any kind of military solution to human problems. I was not schooled in that as an option. My mother in the Church of the Brethren, my father a Conscientious Objector in WWII, from the earliest interactions of my life with language, with understanding the world, with observing my parents, listening to my parents, reconciliation was the baseline. And also the sense that we are surrounded by people who don't agree with us but gently, persistently, in a companionable way, we are working for the best interest of all to pursue reconciliations.
"So when it came time to be part of the 60s and the Vietnam War and so on, there was no thought. It was assumed. Well, I am a CO. So it's not like, will I become a CO. I AM a CO. I'm a Conscientious Objector. I can't engage in war in any form."
Kim has spent his life teaching and writing. He's the Director of the Northwest Writing Institute and The William Stafford Center at Lewis & ClarkCollege in Portland, OR. To many, he is first and foremost a poet and has several collections of his poetry to his name. He's also an activist and the caretaker of his father's legacy. His father, William Stafford, writer and teacher and CO, remains a presence in American poetry and letters and with those interested in peace-making . In 2003 Kim edited a volume of his father's poetry, Every War Has Two Losers: William Stafford on Peace and War, a moving and strikingly relevant reflection of the cost of war on society from a WWII Conscientious Objector's point of view. This year a new edition of Down in My Heart: Peace Witness in War Time, also by William Stafford, has been published. Kim is involved in all of these projects.
A new collection of Kim's poetry, A Thousand Friends of Rain: New and Selected poems 1976-1998, was recently published by Carnegie Mellon University Press. And in 2002 Kim published his own memoir of his father, Early Morning: Remembering My Father, William Stafford, book that explores much of his family's history with conscientious objection.
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