William Stafford was born in Hutchinson, Kansas in 1914. While pursuing his Master’s Degree at the University of Kansas, Stafford was drafted into the U.S. Armed Forces. Being a registered pacifist, Stafford served in the Civilian Public Service Corps from 1942-1946 where he worked in forestry and soil conversation. After completing his degree, he moved to Oregon, where he was a long-standing teacher at Lewis and Clark College. Known for his plain-spoken style–and his views against war and violence–Stafford’s poems (of which there are many–he wrote a whopping 22,000 in his lifetime) continue to have a profound influence on young writers. In 1963, his poetry collection, Traveling Through the Dark, won the National Book Award for Poetry.
Jack Gilbert is an American poet born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. Gilbert worked as a door-to-door salesman, an exterminator, and a steelworker before attending college at San Francisco State University where he met Allen Ginsberg and participated in Jack Spicer’s Poetry As Magic workshop. Gilbert’s first collection of poems, Views of Jeopardy, won the prestigious Yale Open Poetry Competition and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1962, catapulting him into early fame, something unusual for any American poet, of any time. Gilbert, however, avoided the limelight and moved to Europe shortly afterwards. He would not publish a second book of poetry for another twenty years. He spent most of that time living in England, Denmark, and Greece. Gilbert won the National Book Award for his fourth book of poems, Refusing Heaven. His last book, The Dance Most of All, was published in 2010. Gilbert died on November 13, 2012, at the age of 87.