Stephen Rodefer (1940-2015)
Stephen Rodefer was a poet and dear friend to many here in New Mexico and California and Paris and points beyond. He taught at UNM before moving to Berkeley. A Memorial Reading has occurred at the Geoffrey Young Gallery in Great Barrington MA on October 24th. Upcoming in Berkeley is a memorial tribute November 21st at 6 pm at the Berkeley Arts Festival. And in Paris on December 5th at 5:00 pm at La Guillotine, 24 rue Robespierre.
From an Interview by Bruce Holsapple and John Tritica, concerning Stephen Rodefer:
Holsapple: In 1972 you began Fervent Valley, can you talk about your involvement with that group, you, Bill Pearlman, Charlie Vermont, Stephen Rodefer.
Goodell: Bill Pearlman named it; Fervent Valley referred to Placitas. There were four editors, fighting all the time. But each issue was a little different. Lenore was the art editor. Pat Bolles [of Grasshopper Press] sold me his Davidson offset press for a dollar and we moved it to an off room of the Thunderbird Bar and I printed there. Stephen Rodefer did [a Fervent Valley] primarily on his own. Then he started doing the Pick Pocket series. Steve was teaching at UNM.
About this time , Steve and I went on tour. I took my medicine bag—my circus trunk—and we went off in a Datsun station wagon, Steve and Lenore and my 4-year old son, Joel. We had a National Rifle Association credit card. We went all over the country, even Canada, thanks to Steve’s organizing. We read in Chicago. We went to Connecticut where the Olson archives are now. We read at St. Mark’s in New York; we went to Buffalo and Toronto. Each place I’d do a rather elaborate set up of the Ometèotl poems.
Holsapple: There was, I take it, an active poetry scene at the national level, so you could set up readings?
Goodell: Yeah, again, this is by way of friends. Steve knew a lot of people. He went to graduate school at Buffalo and we visited friends of his there who were involved with Olson.”
Stephen Rodefer’s books are One or Two Love Poems from the White World, The Bell Clerk’s Tears Keep Flowing, Villon (duende press), Four Lectures (which was a winner of the American Poetry Center’s Annual Book Award), Oriflamme Day (with poet Benjamin Friedlander), Emergency Measures, Passing Duration, Erasers, Left Under A Cloud, Call It Thought, and Mon Canard.
A message from Katrine Le Gallou suggests that I “might like to share this small report on the ceremony for Stephen. It was written by Felix Brenner, one of Stephen’s sons. Rae Armantrout, Laird Hunt, Jonathan Skinner, Josh Robinson also attended the ceremony. The cause of his death is unknown, he was found in his studio by our son Dewey (18 yrs old). . . .”
From Felix Brenner (son of Summer Brenner and Stephen Rodefer):
“Stephen’s funeral took place today at Père Lachaise with about 40 people – family, friends and poets from Paris and England – joining us to mourn and celebrate.
On this shining and cooler September day, Dewey, Ben, Katrine and I met his casketed body at 10:00 AM at the Medical Institute along the Seine across from the Jardin des Plantes. We had some moments with him, to be together and say some words, before moving with him by car to the cemetery. During this time, Jackie retrieved a word painting by Stephen (Moet et Moi, Ashes to Ashes, Art to Art) and some of his decorative dresses (those he hung on his walls) from his studio and set the scene of our tribute, actually wearing one of those dresses herself as she had plucked it off his wall in the prior days.
The tribute program and readings were as follows:
Show a Little Emotion for the granite – Felix
Welcome in English and French – Felix & Katrine
Cy Gist in French and English – Katrine & Jackie
A Selection of Poems – Dewey
– De poverté, Poem, To A Reader, Electrified World, and an original poem by Dewey that he had never shared with Stephen
– A tribute and reading of a portion of Love Thirty – Benjamin Rodefer
With the five of us having lived as this insular family for the last ten days, so focused on the emotion and affairs of Stephen’s death, it was hard to know what to expect. We overran our allotted time (as Stephen was always one to close down a party). Not a group to go quietly, as guests were invited up to the casket, many took the chance to utter verse, share a story, and give thanks. John and Val (friends of his from London) provided Fuck Death (another word painting by Stephen) pins for guests to wear. Even our Père Lachaise attendant asked for one afterwards and was seen wearing it as she walked the grounds and met with other funeral parties. Another friend Ian Hunt brought copies of Left Under a Cloud to give. The warmth, balance and love brought by those that joined made for a beautiful day and a fitting Parisian goodbye.
We retired to a cafe nearby to continue the celebration, eating and drinking. With the crowd shrunk to 15 or so, we meandered back through Pere Lachaise in the afternoon light, on our way to Stephen’s favorite cafe – La Fée Verte above Bastille – for additional food and beverage.”
– Felix Brenner, Wednesday, September 2nd. 2015.
Stephen there’s so much more to say but it’s late . . . . love to you always and love to your extended family . . . from Larry and Lenore and Joel . . .
/A few notes compiled by Larry Goodell, concerning Stephen. Some of this may appear in the upcoming issue of the Malpais Review.