“City of the Book” is a poem that Kim Stafford wrote for the Multnomah County Library, to mark the formation of a new library district on July 1st, 2013. At a celebration that day on the steps of the Central Library, he led the crowd in a reading of the poem.
When asked about the experience of writing this poem, Stafford said:
I understand the library as a force of nature--more like a river or an orchard or a lagoon teeming with fish than a box of silent books. The place is alive, bountiful, brimming, spilling treasure of ideas and stories, facts and films, songs and tales for children in all directions. It's a watershed, harvesting rain and feeding everyone. So, to write a poem about such a place is more like turning on the tap than struggling for words. Words flow from libraries, for libraries, for people in libraries. I was just a small part of this bountiful storm of words.
Kim Stafford’s father, William Stafford (1914-1993), spoke at a different library event 30 years prior at the Lake Oswego Library. Lewis & Clark University commemorated the 100th anniversary of William Stafford’s birth in 2013, and the 2014 statewide Oregon Reads community reading project focused on his work.