Trinity University Press

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The Osage Orange Tree

William Stafford (author), Naomi Shihab Nye (afterword), Dennis Cunningham (illustrations)

A powerful story of young love by one of America's most beloved poets 

The Osage Orange Tree, a never-before-published story by beloved poet William Stafford, is about young love complicated by misunderstanding and the insecurity of adolescence, set against the backdrop of poverty brought on by the Great Depression. 

The narrator recalls a girl he once knew. He and Evangeline, both shy, never find the courage to speak to each other in high school. Every evening, however, Evangeline meets him at the Osage orange tree on the edge of her property. He delivers a newspaper to her, and they talk—and as the year progresses a secret friendship blossoms. This magical coming-of-age tale is brought to life through linocut illustrations by Oregon artist Dennis Cunningham, with an afterword by poet Naomi Shihab Nye, a personal friend of Stafford’s. 

The Osage Orange Tree gives us insight into the nature of a young poet who struggled and worked through some of America’s hardest and most inspiring times. In the tradition of the work of great fiction writers like Steinbeck, O’Connor, and Welty, The Osage Orange Tree stands the test of time, not just as an ode to a place and a generation but as a testament to the resilience of a nation and the strength of the human heart.


“This shy paperboy meets a girl who wears a faded blue dress, and they strike up a tentative friendship that lasts through the school year. There's a twist, O. Henry on the Prairie, and the story ends the way it had to. The writing is clean, the emotion is earned, and it's too bad Stafford didn't try more fiction on a few more of those early morning writing sessions.”

The Portland Oregonian

The Osage Orange Tree cover
  • Price: $14.95 buy »
  • Pages: 64
  • Size: 5 1/4 x 7 3/8
  • Published: Jan 2014
  • Status: Available
  • ISBN: 9781595341846
  • Price: $14.95
  • Pages: 64
  • Published: Jan 2014
  • Status: Available
  • ISBN: 9781595341020