Stephen Rodefer 1940-2015

Posted by: Bill Pearlman
Published on August 23rd, 2015 @ 04:44:00 pm , using 365 words
Category: Commentary

Very dear old friend, poet Steve Rodefer died in Paris a few days back. I got a message from his son Benjamin late last night, and Ben and Felix, another of Steve's sons, were on their way to Paris. Steve and I shared lots of great times in New Mexico and Berkeley. He was an editor, a poet, a great lover of women, and he was an important part of my generation. We started a literary magazine, Fervent Valley, in 1972, along with Larry & Lenore Goodell, and Charlie Vermont.

Below is an in memoriam from Geoffrey Young who published some of Steve's good works when he ran The Figures Press. I think of Steve with great fondness and news of his death at 74 kept me remembering so many times together from 1967 when we both arrived in New Mexico until his later years in the Bay Area. He moved to Paris sometime in the last ten years, and we corresponded occasionally, but there was always a deep camaraderie between us and we both loved the power of poetry to move the soul.

Stephen Rodefer

A poet who got his great work written and published by various small presses; a man who gave readings, taught many a younger poet in various universities; fathered four sons; a friend who lived in Albuquerque, Berkeley, Brooklyn, and Paris, Stephen Rodefer died alone in Paris, August 2015, a few months shy of his 75th birthday.

From his earliest days at SUNY Buffalo as a student of Creeley and Olson,
Rodefer knew his calling, and kept his eyes on the prize. Without making a big deal of it, he kept writing, exploring the lyric, putting his hand to a translation of Villon into idiomatic American; stretching out in the long form in Four Lectures; addressing the prose poem with complex wit in Passing Duration; and in the year 2000 he published Mon Canard, pushing sense, puns, and meaning to the sonic brink.

His collected poems, CALL IT THOUGHT, came out in 2008 from Carcanet, UK. (Steve spent some important time in Cambridge, England and was embraced by many British poets.)

He will be missed by all of us who knew and loved him.

--Geoffrey Young

5 comments

Comment from: Scott Bentley [Visitor]
Ear up, or
Get off

—in memory of Stephen Rodefer (1940-2015)


Temptations in sex, given

up approximate location. Just to stand
under the place holder your language cast
across conclusion. No one’s right, everyone
believes, more simply—one stop short

less becoming. And to sidle up
with a hoarse voice hushes

the animal. Whenever we, too,
put on those lovely gloves, over

and out these findings
a fingerling, adrift

in consensual draft, Lincoln
continental.

Taken with particular errant
accent, a likeness.
Moreover,

this may never, for once
taste anything at all: like chicken. Fear not, now
and again I say, ‘rejoice, rejoice.’ In Indiana
Diana was a huntress. Note, how

nude the word ‘tampon’ in pieces finds itself, broken
beneath the shelf of the previous stanza.
Chandelier, swing low
the party zealots

speak bakery French—
chief loaf chef bus

so sheer a kiss that parting scores, alive
nor any longer a matter of desire. Let’s re-do
in order to detour the book the outcome
rent its plural detriment. As is today

alacrity our country nonsense. He’s dead
to me, to you, a mere

dance, shadow step
away,

reflect, move over.
08/27/15 @ 02:09
Comment from: John Bean [Visitor]
Great to hear from you and Geoff after all these years.
We lean tenuously upon each other like a pile of sticks in this strange life.
Pull one away and the whole pile compresses....
and we find one another again.
I miss running with you.
08/28/15 @ 01:00
Comment from: Jerry Mirabel [Visitor]
Good poet Rodefer and handsome man. I saw him read in Oakland, seemed a bit aloof, maybe stoned, but the reading was good and he had a fine demeanor. I liked his love poems
09/01/15 @ 16:15
Comment from: George Meredith [Visitor]
Saw him read in San Diego and he also organized a George Oppen conference. Rodefer was a dashing figure, an old-time throwback to the poet as handsome rogue or lover with questionable boundaries. He had a good presence, and women seemed drawn to him as bees to the invisble honey of his poetry.
01/30/16 @ 10:43
Comment from: Peter B. Ives [Visitor]
Saw and heard Mr Rodefer at a poetry reading at UNM in Albuquerque in the late '60s with several other poets. I was a very impressed undergrad, but didn't realize until much later how lucky we were. The English Dept brought in lots of powerhouse talent then. Not so much now. RIP.
03/16/16 @ 21:27