Sequim’s Doug Stanfield released “Lifting Stones,” a poetry collection, on June 8. Submitted photo

Sequim’s Doug Stanfield released “Lifting Stones,” a poetry collection, on June 8. Submitted photo

Sequim writer explores, love, loss and grief with ‘Lifting Stones’

To some — including the writer himself — it seems Doug Stanfield is coming into the writing world of poetry late in the proverbial game.

His wealth of experience in writing and editing was built over decades but predominantly through newspaper and public relations copy.

“I wanted to see if I could do something new at 64 … something interesting,” Stanfield says over a cup of coffee in downtown Sequim.

Now 72, his third book of poems, “Lifting Stones,” is on the cusp of release. The compendium of terse, pointed poems of love, hope, grief and loss — all themes Stanfield seems to come by honestly — sees its release on Tuesday, June 8, from Rootstock Publishing, a Montpelier, Vermont-based publisher.

Stanfield muses on the passage of time in the most personal, unflinching way in “Lifting Stones,” from fame and fortune unrequited to love lost, the publication’s pieces, as the collection is described by his publishers, “understand life by looking back along the trail” and “seeing clearly, he stacks personal, grounded word formations like rock cairns left for the next traveler.”

“Lifting Stones” was officially released June 8 at Rootstock Publishing’s website (rootstockpublishing.com) and is available for the book trade at Ingram.

“I got to a certain point, I started taking stock of things,” Stanfield says. “I wanted to do it in the most personal, honest way.

Whatever I was going to do, I wanted it to be universal.”

And that wasn’t going to happen writing press releases about million-dollar gifts for colleges an universities. Stanfield had a small stroke in April 2014, for a time losing much of the ability to use two fingers in one hand. He asked his wife to bring his laptop to the hospital, leaning on his writing background to fuel his rehabilitation.

Soon, he started posting his writings on a blog — anonymously at first — on hemmingplay.com.

“I didn’t expect to publish books,” he recalls. “(But) it was a pretty positive experience.”

He wrote “Mermaid Sisters: First Dive,” an electronic children’s book, then compiled a self-published book in 2014 and another in early 2018.

“I didn’t care if they sold. And they didn’t.”

In April 2018, Stanfield’s wife died. She’d battled cancer five times previously over the preceding two decades, he recalls. While she fought the illness, Stanfield sat with a notebook by her bed, writing.

While some people hold on to the pain, Stanfield, confides, “I need to get it out.

I feel I can understand it better. It was an act of therapy.”

What followed was about two years of grieving, much of which informs “Lifting Stones.” While the collection is not chronological, they are primarily new with some tracing their origin to three or four years back.

“I wanted to leave examples for my sons that, if they get stuck in life, they can always try something new, like I did with poetry,” he says.

Stanfield grew up in western Ohio, the son of a teacher and a nurse. He earned a bachelor’s of science degree in sociology and political science from Wright State University, a master’s in journalism from University of Oregon. He worked as a fraud investigator for 10 years out of school before a long career in various forms of communication, from newspapers to academic public relations and more.

Like many writers, Stanfield has a wide breadth of reading interests, from history to philosophy and theology, and the literary appetite informs his word choices, the poet says. His influences include more recent writers such as Jim Harrison and Mary Oliver, while he delves back into Frost, Hesse, Wordsworth, Tennyson, Dickinson and Yeats for classic poetry and to Shakespeare, Hemingway and Steinbeck for prose.

“I love that amid the clear-eyed Mary Oliver-ish lyricism of Doug Stanfield’s poems, there are lines like: ‘ … older men and women bring experienced stupidity to the bed’,” author Lauren Kessler writes. “This is the work of a man who has lived, and learned — and continues to do so with both strength and vulnerability.”

It was the late, legendary poet/journalist Carl Sandburg who first truly turned Stanfield’s head when, just a third- or fourth-grader, he was captivated by a 33-and-a-third vinyl reading of Sandburg’s poetry, read by the author, that his father bought him.

Bringing “Lifting Stones” to life in current form took plenty of work in the editing process, Stanfield says, which takes a good amount of trust between the writer and editor; in this case, it’s Rootstock’s Samantha Kolber.

The editing, he says, became a process of shedding every unnecessary word and simply “tying to see things they really are.” That’s life on a literary knife’s edge: being self-critical enough to improve one’s writing but not so critical to the point one becomes paralysed by fear.

Over time, Stanfield notes, “I became convinced she (Kolber) was on my side.”

Rootstock is a hybrid publisher, meaning Stanfield fronts some money to produce the book and the publisher then does the legwork to promote it, thereby reducing the overall risk for the publishing company.

“Lifting Stones” follows in the wake of Stanfield’s “I Came From a Place of Fireflies: Tunes of a Life” (2017) and “Snowflakes & Ashes: Meditations on the Temporary” (2018).

Read more about Stanfield at dwstanfield.com. Get the book online at rootstockpublishing.com.

Doug Stanfield’s “Lifting Stones”

Doug Stanfield’s “Lifting Stones”

More in Life

A Sequim students enjoys a ride on a newly-donated adaptive bicycle, donated by Rotary Club of Sequim. Submitted photo
Milestone: Rotary Club of Sequim donates eighth, ninth adaptive bikes

A collaboration between Sequim schools and the Rotary Club of Sequim is… Continue reading

PAFAC to fete longest day of year with Summertide Solstice Art Festival

The Port Angeles Fine Arts Center hosts Summertide Solstice Art Festival, a… Continue reading

tsr
NOLS opens invitation to Summer Reading Challenge

The North Olympic Library System is hosting its annual Summer Reading Challenge… Continue reading

TEASER
Dream Catcher balloon program named a top nonprofit

Pilot continues to seek opportunities to share flight with vets, more

tsr
Milestone: Soroptimists celebrate super show, auction

Representatives with Soroptimist International of Sequim are celebrating successes of their recent… Continue reading

Parenting in Focus: What your toddler needs

As your child grows you set limits, look for opportunities, and try… Continue reading

tsr
KSQM lines up a summer full of music

Jazz, bluegrass, folk, country and more are on the menu as KSQM… Continue reading

Eva Kozun and Gayle Selby hope the community keeps creating art for Free Little Art Galleries coming to the Sequim area this summer. Selby sent an article to Kozun in January that led the mixed-media artist to create four galleries with one posted so far at Dungeness’ Dandelion Botanical Company, 4681 Sequim Dungeness Way. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash
Dungeness business features area’s first Free Little Art Gallery

Sequim friends eye four more spots between Sequim and Port Angeles

OPAS presentation to examine lives of Greater Sage-Grouse

The Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society offers a free Zoom presentation on “Wildfire,… Continue reading

Most Read