A Few Notes Concerning My Friend Stephen Rodefer

larry stephen rodefer pancho elliston in placitas by bob dalessandro

Stephen Rodefer sitting between me and Pancho Elliston (co-owner of the Living Batch Bookstore in Albuquerque). In Placitas at Alice and Lee Johnson’s house. Photo by Bob D’Alessandro. 1970’s.

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.

fervent valley editors placitas

Photo by Wayne Jones on road by the Thunderbird Bar in Placitas.


Fervent Valley 1-4. Stephen was an editor of #1 and #2 and sole editor of #4 (1972-1974)

fervent valley eds tbird jones

Editors of Fervent Valley #1, 1972: Lenore Goodell, me, Stephen Rodefer, Charlie Vermont and Bill Pearlman, Press was in the Thunderbird Bar (background).

fv1 coverphoto

This photo we used on the back of FV #1.

About this time [1974], 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 rodefer flyer boston univ 1973 10 10

Steve wrote this crazy blurb for me signed “Wolfman Jack” expanding on something Charlie Vermont said . . .

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.

pearl rodefer silverberg

Bill Pearlman, Leni Silverbird (behind) and Stephen Rodefer, Albuquerque, I believe.

rodefer berkeley

Stephen in Berkeley and I think the beard was rare . . . (I don’t remember seeing it)

miki rodefer yale st grasshopper broadside

Broadside with Rodefer poem and artwork by Michelle Bourque Sewards, put out by the Yale Street Grasshopper Bookstore (later transmogrifying into the Living Batch) . . . . incredibly beautiful poem and drawing . . .

rodefer villon cover with spine

First of the “PickPocket Series” modeled after City Lights Pocket Series . . . 1976, duende press a la Rodefer.

Rodefer Goodell Central Torta 1979 05 02 Albuquerque

Rousing poetry / music / dance at the Central Torta run by the Bill Rane family . . . Albuquerque

Steve Rodefer & Olivia & tumbleweed 68

At the shoot for Oriental Blue Streak Stephen is carrying Olivia and a genuine New Mexico tumbleweed.

oriental blue streak

Oriental Blue Streak photo shoot by Carl Michener-Rodin. The one-shot magazine came out in 1968 – Stephen in the doorway . . . l to r Gene Frumkin, Betsy and little Amy and Kell Robertson, Mel and Beverly Buffington sitting, Lora Linsley, me, Steve, Olivia, Charlie Potts, Bill Pearlman and Joe Bottone foreground . . .

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


Felix, Benjamin, Dewey . . . in Paris at this time of the Memorial for their father Stephen Rodefer . . . . what a wonderful picture. Love to you all.

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.


About larry goodell

Poet exploring his viable extensions - publisher, performer, playwright - hand to hand help in creating spaces for poetry to be live in - reading events, recordings, online and tangible publications in the vocal spirit of his New Mexico.
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8 Responses to A Few Notes Concerning My Friend Stephen Rodefer

  1. Kim says:

    What an incredible tribute, Larry, with phenomenal photos.

  2. Gloria Frym says:

    oh, Larry, this was our life. How beautifully you put this together.
    It’s to be cherished. xogf

  3. Stephen was a TA at UNM when I was there. A kind and generous man loved by students and all the rest of us hanging out in Placitas and Albuquerque in those beloved 60’s. We were born the same year. I will be 75 on New Years Eve. Thank you so much Larry for writing this memory.

  4. Ken Keppeler says:

    That was very nice Larry. It is very nice when many friends can honor another persons life like that. A very fortunate farewell for anyone. Ken

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for this Larry. Interesting to see pic of Benjamin who we knew as a baby in Buffalo. Just a note on your biblio: his first book, _The Knife_, was published in Toronto by Victor Coleman’s Island Press in 1965. Steve and Penny went up from Buffalo to Toronto with Pauline and I where we spent the weekend at Victor’s house while we typed and mimeo’d my first book, _Lardeau_. Steve got into the process of diy publishing and followed with _The Knife_. I scanned the cover but this reply frame doesn’t seem to allow posting pics.

    best, Fred Wah

  6. WD Pearlman says:

    Good effort, Larry…The beat goes on…

  7. Pingback: Poets In Placitas – links – March 12, 2016 | lotsa, larry goodell

    for Steve

    his analytical frame went
    over my head & down to the floor where I
    stepped on the magic
    why do I need to need you floating
    over the states
    between us till all the poems about distance are complete
    & we touch in the closet behind our hands
    over our shoulders and under

    friends cant be friends any other way than
    the nearness of traveling souls
    in relaxed time of day when prisms
    send out rainbows across the room
    where I float back through to you Power
    is not a dirty word brother when we travel
    standing here

    /larry goodell / placitas, new mexico / written in June 1975

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