VIDEO + AUDIO Stephen Rodefer, a Memorial Tribute, at Berkeley Arts Festival

Sunday, November 22 - 2:00 am PST
Berkeley Arts Festival 2133 University Avenue (at Shattuck), Berkeley
With: Benjamin Rodefer, Felix Brenner, Alan Bernheimer, David Brazil, Brandon Brown, Jean Day, Steve Dickison, Steven Farmer, Kathleen Frumkin, Gloria Frym, Tinker Greene, Oliver Heyer, Sara Larsen, Bill Luoma, David Marriott, George Mattingly, Jason Morris, Stephen Ratcliffe, Pat Reed, Kit Robinson, Juliana Spahr, Alli Warren, Chet Wiener

Stephen Rodefer

Stephen Rodefer (1940-2015) spent a good chapter of his life here in the Bay Area. A man of many cities, a poet of chameleonic power, latterday painter of words-as-image, Rodefer made a significant locus for his life and work in cities as scattered as Buffalo, Albuquerque, San Francisco/Berkeley/Oakland, San Diego, Brooklyn, Cambridge (UK), and Paris (France), where he spent the better part of the past two decades. His many books (and booklets) include The Knife, Lies of the Artists, VILLON by Jean Calais, One Or Two Love Poems from the White World, The Bell Clerk's Tears Keep Flowing, SAFETY, Plane Debris, Four Lectures, The Library of Label (broadside), Emergency Measures, Oriflamme Day (with Benjamin Friedlander), Passing Duration, Daydreams of Frascati, Erasers, Answer to Doctor Agathon, Left Under a Cloud, The Age in Its Cage (an essay), and Call It Thought: Selected Poems.
from Felix Brenner:
a son's obituary


Stephen Rodefer

A man of words, of excesses, lover of clothes, lover of love, Stephen Rodefer was born November 20, 1940 in Bellaire, Ohio, to Dorothy and Howard Rodefer. The youngest of three, brother to Rick and Judy, Stephen was raised on the hill-top, athletic with a racquet, and prone to blow glass. He died in Paris, at home amongst the trappings of his genius, exhausted books and wild paintings.
He was educated at Amherst College (BA), SUNY Buffalo (MA, ABT), and SFSU (MFA), going on to foster the pen of so many others, teaching around the world at the likes of UC Berkeley and San Diego, Cambridge University, the Pratt Institute of Art, and San Francisco State.
Stephen was devoted to his writing above all else. He was a brilliant passeur of thought and beauty, taking on L-A-N-G-U-A-G-E, reinventing Villon, working on traditional themes and form while always pushing well beyond.
Stephen leaves behind many clusters of friends made around the globe, interspersed networks coupled by his life, his narrative. He is survived by three sons, Benjamin, Felix, and Dewey, and now beats his drum beside his fourth, D(ear) J(esse), so missed during his final stanza. Our father's sons, progeny of verse.
To articulate in such failing words, albeit words of love, the life of a master of phrase would bring him a sly smile and some editorial joy. But go read for yourself, from VILLON to Four Lectures, from The Bell Clerk's Tears Keep Flowing to Left Under A Cloud, go read his everlasting word, his imprint on us, his mark on the world.
"Underneath you wear a flowing red robe, and I am an adoring suitor. My name is love, my dead body will be the rising sun, the day will last forever. I have always carried with me an urge of great melancholy, like a black cloth gardenia. It is an inheritance of heart and nerves. Here the maestro himself puts down his pen."*
* "Show a Little Emotion," for the granite
from The Bell Clerk's Tears Keep Flowing (1978) by Stephen Rodefer
Photo: Stephen Rodefer, by Tom Raworth



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The Poetry Center
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The Poetry Center