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Multifaceted alum explores self-expression through various mediums

(Nghi Nguyen/Daily Bruin)

By Emily Sweet

Feb. 11, 2020 10:24 p.m.

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly identified the poetry book "Ancient Darkness". In fact, the poetry book is called "Asian Darkness".

This post was updated Feb. 12 at 2:06 p.m.

Patrick P. Stafford began helping people write their resumes about five decades ago. Now, he has written around 7,000 poems and published three poetry books.

The alumnus has since pursued freelance writing, exploring mediums ranging from poetry to scripts. In his work, Stafford said he embraces philosophical topics such as death, love and resolution.

When he was 14, Stafford said he began to delve into the creative and expansive world of writing, influenced by his father and exposure to Edgar Allan Poe’s work. Stafford said he was drawn to the 19th century writer because of his originality and mastery of the English language.

“His stories are so imaginative. … He didn’t live a long time, but he’s one of the most prolific short story writers to ever live, and he had a tremendous vocabulary,” Stafford said. “I had never been able to read Edgar Allan Poe without a dictionary next to me.”

[Related: Alumnus combines poetry, stand-up comedy in autobiographical one-man show]

Stafford places tremendous value on reading and self-educating through learning from past poets and authors, he said. During his time at UCLA, formal education presented him an opportunity to begin exploring different types of writing, including nonfiction, journalism and screenplay writing.

Stafford’s immense knowledge has been an important asset for him, according to colleague Queen Ofir. Stafford has served as a senior marketing editor for entertainment figure Ofir, and his broad knowledge about social media and the entertainment industry has been one of his greatest strengths. She said she admires how extensive Stafford’s drive to learn is and how this enables him to approach writing topics in creative ways.

“He’s always been expanding, because he constantly is on a learning mode,” Ofir said. “He picks up new movies, new books, he learns about things, he always studies. This guy is a constant studier.”

Stafford’s regard for a wide range of topics has led him to write in genres ranging from westerns to science fiction. One of Stafford’s most specialized novels, a poetry book entitled “Homage to a Princess,” is a collection of poems dedicated to Princess Diana. Stafford said he wrote the entire collection within the span of one week right after the royal died. As a figure whom he admired, the princess of Wales’ sudden death impacted Stafford, who was moved to write poetry in response, he said. The collection was inspired by her life, death and the nature of sudden tragedy.

“(The princess of Wales) had tremendous character and dignity and she was not aloof,” Stafford said. “She didn’t hang out and stay inside that palace – she came out of the palace, and she hung out with the rest of us. So I was very inspired, it just came to me.”

Aside from his own work, Stafford has spent much of his career editing. For one of Stafford’s close friends and colleague, Julie LeComte, he has served not only as a collaborator, but a reliable editor and friend to assist her with screenwriting projects. She said she has specifically valued the editing that Stafford has done for her because English is her second language which she learned only after emigrating from France as an adult, she said. LeComte believes Stafford’s breadth of vocabulary has contributed to his versatility as a writer.

[Related: UCLA’s newest poet-in-residence to explore intersection of storytelling and law]

When it comes to his method of writing, Stafford said he utilizes what he calls “triggers” to help get him in the mindset to write. Whether it is a Bee Gees song or a specific environment, Stafford utilizes such moments to aid his writing process and help him get ideas flowing, he said.

“I really found things – like music for example – (to be triggers) when I want to write poetry,” Stafford said. “You should go out to a place, play nice music – easygoing, easy listening pop music, maybe some rock ‘n’ roll.”

When it comes to finding ideas for his work, Stafford said he believes in a higher form of muse, something aiding and inspiring much of his work. He said that he believes there is spirituality involved that allows him to develop ideas effortlessly. For Stafford, the idea of a muse enables him to indulge in ideas as they occur to him rather than forcing the flow of his writing.

Stafford said he is currently working on republishing a collection of 100 poems written about the Vietnam War entitled “Asian Darkness.” Stafford’s career, until this point, has been based on his ability to move fluidly through styles and factions of the writing world, and he said he believes being open-minded is key for emerging writers.

“I give advice to young writers. I tell them don’t limit yourself, don’t be narrow-minded,” Stafford said. “It’s like holding your hands along the side of your face as close to your nose that narrows your vision. Open your hands up so it looks like you’ve got wings.”

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Emily Sweet
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