A Story That Could be True – As song by Paula Sinclair

As part of an Oregon Art Beat Special, "Singing Poetry Back to Life," airing during the Stafford Centennial in 2014, singer songwriter Paula Sinclair sings his poem, "A Story That Could be True." When interviewed, she said, “If someone had said to me, ‘You know you’re going to put music to poetry,’ I would have never thought of that because I was just not a poetry reader.”

The first poem she put to music was ‘Our Story.’  It went smoothly" she said.  “There’s a kind of country feeling running through a lot of his poetry,” she says. “His poetry is very sophisticated but down-to-earth; it almost seems simple at times.”

But when she got to work on ‘A Story That Could Be True,’ the process mysteriously ground to a halt. “For about two months I couldn’t put music to it. And then I was invited to my first Stafford picnic,” she recalls. The now-annual picnics take place every summer in Lake Oswego and bring together lovers of Stafford’s work. It was there that Sinclair found what she needed.

“I heard all these stories about William Stafford and met all these people that had known him for years, including Dorothy [Stafford’s wife], and the very next morning I got up and the music came to that poem. That’s a real magical feeling. I mean, I woke up and there it was, just waiting for me.”

“Sometimes when I’m working on Stafford's poetry, there’s a presence in the room. Each poem has its own spirit. And then the body of work has a spirit and then of course, there’s the spirit of William Stafford.”