To the editor:
William Stafford was a citizen of Lawrence. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees up on the hill, an exemplary student. William Burroughs lived in town a few years too. As Clark H. Coan pointed out (Public Forum, Feb. 26), he wasn’t such a great example.
Both Williams would have turned 100 within a short time here: the one who was born and raised in Kansas, and learned in Lawrence — and this other man. Just why again is Burroughs being heralded over Stafford?
William Stafford, a National Book Award winner and a U.S. poet laureate, is known and loved around the globe for his truthful writing, gentle manner and ethical convictions. He was an artist of the first tier and has been deemed the most-read poet in America.
William Stafford, unlike your other Bill, not only didn’t murder anybody, he would not take up arms when ordered to and so spent four years laboring as a World War II conscientious objector. He was that convinced that killing was wrong. And he stood tall for peace all of his life.
I heard William Stafford read two dozen times. I visited his home, and he mine. He was steady. And I met your other Bill in his house as well, but came away underwhelmed.
Again, why is it that Lawrencians keep taking a shine to the one William over the other? Why can’t we all honor the honorable Bill? Why not give this Burroughs business a rest?