Cottage Grove, Scene & Heard

Cottage Grove welcomes back renowned poet at Friday’s Art Walk

“Writers are constantly seeking to recognize the secrets they are ready to tell. If it’s not a secret of some kind, how can it have power for a reader or listener?” asks poet Kim Stafford. 

Stafford is an Oregon poet who describes himself as “born in Portland deep in the last century.” 

He will be reading his poetry and engaging with audiences during the Cottage Grove Art Walk on Friday, May 31 at Bookmine from 6-7 p.m. and Kalapuya Books from 7-8 p.m.

Kim Stafford Photo: Rob Reynolds

On Saturday, June 1 from 8 am-10:30 am at the First Presbyterian Church, he will be teaching a workshop that will “explore the quiet powers of poetry,” in which the participants will be writing their own poetry. Following the class, he will give a reading from his most recent work at 11 a.m.

This reading isn’t Stafford’s first rodeo—or his first time in Cottage Grove. 

Stafford came to Cottage Grove in 2019 when he was named Oregon’s ninth Poet Laureate by former Gov. Kate Brown. 

During his two-year term, he visited over 100 groups throughout the state, sharing his poetry and teaching how to write poetry. 

Stafford has taught in schools and colleges in Scotland, Italy, Mexico and Bhutan. He founded the Northwest Writing Institute in 1986, and in 1987 co-founded the Fishtrap Writers Gathering. 

He is the author of 47 books of poetry and prose, including a children’s book, and he has edited and written the introduction for six more. His most recent book “As the Sky Begins to Change,”  came out in April.

According to Bruce Kelsh, president of Friends of the Cottage Grove Library, “He was extremely generous with his time and we organized a lot of activities for him. … During fractured times, Kim brings a healing presence through his poetry. People really wanted him to return.”  

Stafford makes writing and poetry accessible to the dabbler as well as the experienced poet, his enthusiasm reeling one in. 

“We each have a vote, which is very important,” Stafford said. “We also each have a voice. A vote has a certain size: one. A voice, when explored through writing, can grow and reach beyond the one. We need a democracy of voices to help each other guide and enrich our world.”

His visit is sponsored by Cottage Grove Community Foundation in partnership with Friends of Cottage Grove Library.

Stafford isn’t the only attraction to the art walk this month on Friday, May 31. 

One of the draws (literally and figuratively!) of the Cottage Grove Last Friday Art Walk for the month of May is the chalk art on the sidewalks downtown, culminating in the Chalk Fest Award ceremony at 7:30 p.m. at Opal Whiteley Park. There will be rock art painting during the art walk in the park and local talent playing music. This is the third year of the chalk festival; the date moved to this time of year in the hope the weather will behave.

Michele Rose, the art walk coordinator and the organizer of the event, said, “On the art walk each year, people of all ages flood our historic downtown to come together to create beautiful art on our sidewalks. It is one of our favorite community events. It is exciting to see people young and old fill our sidewalks with art.”

Those interested in snatching up a sidewalk spot can register at the Crafty Mercantile. There is no entry fee. The contest is open to all, but space is limited. Judging will be on Friday from 6:30-7:30 p.m.—which means that if one wants to enter the contest, they need to register and get started ASAP. Chalk Fest is sponsored by Downtown Cottage Grove, Cottage Grove Art Walk, The Crafty Mercantile, and the Cottage Grove Art Collective.

Many of the usual suspects in the Cottage Grove community will be part of the art walk. The Crafty Mercantile will be showing off Liz Riley’s painted gourds and art pieces, as well as Smiling Frog Flowers’ beautiful bouquets. Apple Pie Antiques will be displaying the art of blacksmith Charlie Perrson, photographer Jed Reeser, and the jewelry of Paisley Wenneta. Farmer’s Kitchen Delight will showcase live painting with Dave Sanner. Imagine It Framed will be showing Pacific Photographic Art, and the Huckleberry’s will be playing Americana at the Brewstation.

Other businesses participating in the art walk include: Five Flying Monkeys, Vintage on Main, Rapunzel’s, Goodbar Books, Axe and Fiddle, Pour 818, and the Cottage Grove Chamber of Commerce.

Sarina Dorie is an arts writer for The Chronicle. You can reach her at [email protected]



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