Biography for poet and painter Stephen Rodefer
American University in Paris, Department of English and Comparative Literature, Lecturer, 2003-04
Pratt Institute of Art, New York, Lecturer, 1999
New York University, Department of General Studies, Lecturer, 1998-99
University of Cambridge, By Fellow, Churchill College 1993-94
University of Cambridge, Judith E. Wilson Senior Fellow and Writer-in-Residence, Faculty of English, 1992-93
University of California, Berkeley, Lecturer, Department of Urban Design and Architecture, 1991-92
University of California, San Diego, Lecturer, Department of Language and Literature, 1985-90
University of California, San Diego, Curator of Manuscripts & Art, Archive for New Poetry, Mandeville Department of Special Collections, Central University Library, 1985-87
San Francisco State University, Lecturer, Department of Art, Center for Experimental and Interdisciplinary Art, 1983-85
San Francisco State University, Lecturer, Department of English and Creative Writing, 1981-83
Editor, The Archive Newsletter, The Archive for New Poetry, Mandeville Department of Special Collections, Central University Library, University of California, San Diego CA, 1985-87
Contributing editor, Zyzzyva, San Francisco CA, 1985-1990
Editor, Fervent Valley: a Magazine of the Arts, USA, 1971-1975
E D U C A T I O N
Amherst College, Bachelor of Arts, Art History & English
State University of New York, Buffalo, Master of Arts (ABD), Language and Literature
San Francisco State University, Masters in fine arts, Creative Writing and English
A W A R D S , G R A N T S A N D F E L L O W S H I P S
VirginiaCenter for the Arts Fellow, 1995
Yaddo Foundation Fellow, USA, 1994
By-fellow, Churchill College, University of Cambridge, UK, 1993-94
MacDowell Colony Fellow, USA, 1994, 1992, 1989
Judith E. Wilson Senior Fellow & Writer-in-Residence, Faculty of English, University of Cambridge, UK, 1992-93
Fund for Poetry Grant (NYC), $5,000, unsolicited, 1988
National Endowment for the Humanities [NEH] grant, USA, c. $250,000, co-written for Archive for New Poetry, Mandeville Department of Special Collections, Central University Library, University of California, San Diego, 1986
Public Arts Advisory Council (PAAC) grant, $3,000, The National Endowment for the Arts, USA. 1987
Intersection for the Arts , San Francisco CA, USA, $1000, Artist-in-Residence, 1983
Briarcombe Foundation Grant, Bolinas CA, USA, $1,000, Artist-in-Residence, 1983
Annual Book Award (1983), co-winner, The American Poetry Center (San Francisco State University), forFour Lectures, for “the best book of poetry published in the U.S.” in 1982
P U B L I C A T I O N S
SPECIAL ISSUE Chicago Review, on Stephen Rodefer's Writing and Graphic Work, edited by Joshua Kotin and Michael Kindellan, University of Chicago, Chicago IL, Fall 2008 (54/3)
The Monkeys Donut: Essays in Post-Classical American Literature, Kollophon, London 
“The Age in its Cage: a Note to Mr Mendelssohn on the Social Allegory of Literature and the Deformation of the Canonymous”, Chicago Review, 2006
The Library of Label, Coach House, Toronto, 1988
Joe Brainard: New York School Artists & Writers, University of California San Diego ArtMuseum catalogue, 1987
Several other [many] essays published in American and British journals andperiodicals, including Boundary II; Jimmy and Lucy's House of K; Center; downbeat; WET MAGAZINE; Damage [interview with Jello Biafra of The Dead Kennedys], and others
Reports and broadcasts on Pacifica Radio, KPFA, Berkeley CA, USA: on homosexuality in Raul Castro's Cuba; on “Abraham Lincoln's” acid disfigurement of a giant Richard Avedon portrait of members of Andy Warhol's Factory, at UC Berkeley Art Museum, 1980-82, and others
Letters to the Times Literary Supplement [TLS] and the London Review of Books [LRB], and other British & American journals, on various cultural subjects, including Madame Bovary; Cinema: Syntagmas and Montage
Obituaries of Basil Bunting, George Butterick, Ted Berrigan, and Alex Smith and Helena Bennett, in US/UK journals
and numerous other critical pieces published in American and British periodicals
Call It Thought, Selected Writing 1965-2005, Carcanet, UK, with a foreword by Rod Mengham, 2008
Four Lectures, 2nd edition, Barque Press, Brighton, UK, with an introduction by Keston Sutherland and art work by the author, 
Left Under a Cloud, Alfred David Editions, London, UK, 2000
Mon Canard, The Figures, Great Barrington MA, USA, 2000
Mon Canard, special limited artist edition of 25, individual covers by the author, O Pasternak, Paris, 1995
Answer to Dr Agathon, Poetical Histories, Cambridge, UK, 1995
Erasers, Equipage, Cambridge, UK, 1994
Leaving, Equipage, Cambridge, UK, 1992
Double Imperative Landscapes: Daydreams of Frascati, with Chip Sullivan, Sake Forebear, Berkeley CA, USA, 1992
Emergency Measures, The Figures, Great Barrington MA, USA, 1987
Oriflamme Day (with Benjamin Friedlander), House of K, Oakland CA, USA, 1994
Four Lectures, The Figures, Berkeley CA, USA, 1982
Plane Debris, Tuumba, Berkeley CA, USA, 1981
The Bell Clerk’s Tears Keep Flowing, The Figures, Berkeley CA, USA, 1978
One or Two Love Poems from the White World, Pick Pocket Series, San Francisco CA, USA, 1976
Hamm and Squeek To Go, produced at The Couper Collection, in 'conjunction' with a production of Endgame, by Samuel Beckett, with Michael Gambon, ('West End Theatre'), London, UK, 2004
Zuza Play, produced at 28 Fort Square, Cambridge, UK, 1993
A & C: an Idyl in One Act, in Leaving (1992) and Hills:Poets Theater Anthology, edited by Bob Perelman, 1985; produced at the Cambridge Playhouse, UK, 1993
Tennyson, produced at New Langton Arts, San Francisco CA, 1984
Nomad Life, 1983, unpublished
The Monkey’s Donut: Studies in Post Avant American Literature, Kollophon, London, 
Writing out of Character [with John Wilkinson & Rod Mengham], Street Editions, London, 1992
Passing Duration, Burning Deck, Providence RI, USA, 1991
Chateau d'If, a novel, unpublished
Baudelaire, Fever Flowers: les fleurs du val, excerpts published in Quid, UK, edited by Keston Sutherland, and the Prague Literary Review [PLR], Czeck Republic, 2005, to be published by Barque Editions, UK, 
Rilke I IV VI (with Geoff Ward and Ian Patterson), Poetical Histories, Cambridge, UK, 1994
Dante: Selections from the Inferno, Passing Duration, Burning Deck, Providence RI, USA, 1991
Orpheus [Rilke], Margery Cantor, Tuscany Alley, San Francisco CA, USA, 1985
Safety, translations from Sappho and the Greek Anthology, Margery Cantor, Berkeley CA, USA, 1985
VILLON, by Jean Calais [pen name], Pick Pocket Series, San Francisco CA, USA, 1976
After Lucretius, University of Connecticut, Storrs CT, USA, 1973
The Reality Street Book of Sonnets, edited by Jeff Hilson, Reality Street Editions, UK, 
Beyond the Vanishing Point: New Modernist Poetry, edited by John Kinsella & Rod Mengham, Salt, London, UK, 2004
Onward: Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, edited by Peter Baker, Peter Lang, USA,1996
Conductors of Chaos, edited by Iain Sinclair, Picador, London, UK, 1996
The Postmoderns: a Norton Anthology of Poetry, edited by Paul Hoover, W.W. Norton and Company, New York, USA, 1994
The Unmade Bed: Writing on Sensual Married Love, edited by Laura Chester, Knopf, USA,1991
Nice to See You: Homage to Ted Berrigan, edited by Anne Waldman, Coffee House, USA, 1991
49 + 1: NOUVEAUX POETES AMERICAINS, edited by Emmanual Hocquard & Claude Royet-Journoud, Action Poėtique, Paris, France, 1991
Up Late: American Poetry Since 1970, edited by Andrei Codrescu, FourWalls/Eight Windows, USA, 1988
In The American Tree, edited by Ron Silliman, National Poetry Foundation (NPF), University of Maine, USA, 1988, 2000
Talking Poetry: Interviews in the Workshop, edited by Lee Bartlett, University of New Mexico Press, USA, 1987
43 Poets, edited by Charles Bernstein, in Boundary 2, USA, 1985
P-78, An Anthology of One World Poetry, edited by Soyo Benn, Milkweg, Amsterdam, Holland, 1978
Homage To Frank O’Hara, edited by Bill Berkson, BigSky/Creative Arts, USA, 1978, 1988
F O U N D I N G M E M B E R , P O E T S T H E A T E R ,
S A N F R A N C I S C O (U S A)
[actor and playwright], 1979-1984
C R I T I C A L C O M M E N T & R E V I E W S
O F P U B L I S H E D W O R K
Chicago Review, John Wilkinson on Call It Thought, Fall 2009
Readings Webjournal, Luke Roberts on Call It Thought, 2009
Chicago Review, (54/3), Fall 2008, essays by Keston Sutherland, Fanny Howe, David Georgi, Joshua Kotin and Michael Kindellan
Java, Paris, France, 2004
Poetry Quarterly Review, UK, 2002
Jacket 15, http://jacketmagazine.com/15/brady-rodefer.html, 2001
Library Journal, USA, 2000
Angel Exhaust, London, UK, 1998
The London Review of Books (LRB), UK,1995
The American Poetry Review (APR), Philadelphia PA, USA, l995
Parataxis, Brighton, England, 1993
Fragmente, Oxford, UK, 1993
Sulfur, Los Angeles, USA. 1993
The Times Literary Supplement (TLS), London, UK, 1983
The Poetry Project Newsletter, New York NY, USA, 1983
The Amherst Alumni Magazine, Amherst MA, USA, 1983, 1979, 1977
Poetry Project Newsletter, New York, review of Four Lectures by Ted Berrigan
Poetics Journal, Berkeley, review of Four Lectures by Jed Rasula, 1982
The San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco CA, USA, 1982
The American Book Review, New York NY, USA, 1979
The San Francisco Review of Books, San Francisco CA, USA, 1979
The Washington Post, Washington DC, USA, 1977
The Middle Room, Jennifer Moxley, Sub Press, 2007
Meaning Performance: Essays on Poetry, Tony Lopez, Salt, UK, 2006
Simulcast: Four Experiments in Criticism, Benjamin Friedlander, University of Alabama Press, USA, 2004
Beyond the Vanishing Point: New Modernist Poetry, edited by John Kinsella and Rod Mengham, Salt, London, 2004
Language Writing and the American Avant-Garde, Geoff Ward, UK, 1993
49 + 1: NOUVEAUX POETES AMERICAINS, edited by Emmanual Hocquard and Claude Royet-Journoud, Action Poetique, Paris, 1991
Talking Poetry: Conversations in the Workshop with Contemporary Poets, Lee Bartlett, University of New Mexico Press, 1987
L E C T U R E S , R E A D I N G S , C O N F E R E N C E
a n d S E M I N A R P R E S E N T A T I O N S
[selected] some recorded & videotaped
22nd Ezra Pound International Conference (Italy), THE BERKELEY POETRY CONFERENCE (USA), Sixth International Conference of Poetry (University of Coimbra, Portugal), Second Novi Sad Conference of International Poetry (Serbia), the MLA Convention (San Francisco), UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, UC San Diego, Oxford University (UK), One World Poetry Conference (Amsterdam], University of Buffalo, University of Indiana, MIT, Harvard College, The Poetry Project (St Mark's Church, New York), Detroit Museum of Art, A-Space (Toronto), Kootenay School of Writing (Vancouver), University of Cambridge (UK), University of London (Kings College and Birkbeck), University of Warwick (UK), the Tate Gallery (Liverpool), University of Sussex, University of Durham (UK), University of Exeter (UK), Royal Festival Hall (London), Emory University, University of Paris (College 7), Fondation Royaumont (France), La Maison des Ecrivains (Paris), American University in Paris, San Francisco State University, University of Birmingham (UK), Yaddo Foundation (USA), MacDowell Colony (USA), Virginia Center for The Arts (USA), 80 Langton Street (S.F., CA), New Langton Arts (S.F., CA), Pratt Institute of Art (USA), University of New Hampshire, University of Pennsylvania, Double Change (Paris), Le Divan (Paris), POESIE INTERNATIONAL DU VAL DE MARNE (Paris), Second Prague International Poetry Festival (Czeck Republic), University of New Mexico, Miami University of Ohio, California College of Arts and Crafts, Les Amis de Tony Door (Antony Porta), San Diego CA and Venice, Italy
and many others...
C R I T I C A L W R I T I N G , R E V I E W S ,
I N T E R V I E W S a n d O T H E R W R I T I N G
Sulfur, Zyzzyva, downbeat, oblëk, Conjunctions, Boundary 2, Poetica, Fragmente, Ironwood, Hills, Parataxis, Angel Exhaust, SÛR, Jimmy & Lucy’s, The World, Choice, Manoscritto, Annex A, Fubbalo, New Mexico Quarter, Quart, Interference, Is, Avec, Telephone, Credences, Stifled Yawn, Shiny, ZUK, Poetry Flash, Sum, Connection, Quid, Center, Hills, The Baffler, Island, Java, Amherst Literary, Archive for New, Niagara Frontier, Chicago Review, Magazine, Poetry Review, Cambridge Review, New Mexico Quarterly, Canaria Literaria, Inverse, Duende, Paris Atlantic, Fervent Valley, POÉSIE, Adobe Typeface Catalogue, Magazine of Further, The Dilitante, Prague Literary Review [PLR], Studies and many others...
M A N U S C R I P T A N D P E R S O N A L P A P E R S ,
C O R R E S P O N D E N C E A R C H I V E ,
A R T W O R K , F I L M , P H O T O G R A P H S ,
a n d O T H E R M A T E R I A L S
Held and catalogued at Stanford University Library, Special Collections, Stanford CA , USA
C O M M E N T A R Y O N S T E P H E N R O D E F E R ' S W O R K
from the LRB, the TLS, American Poetry Review (APR), American Book Review (ABR), Sulfur, The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Poetics Journal, San Francisco Review of Books, Jacket (online), Library Journal, Poetry Review Quarterly, Parataxis, Fragmente, Angel Exhaust & other journals, including assessment by Maud Ellmann, the late Robert Creeley, Charles Olson, Hugh Kenner, Albert Cook, George Butterick and Brion Gysin--and by J. H. Prynne, Simon Jarvis, Keith Tuma, Geoff Ward, Rod Mengham, Ian Patterson, Ben Friedlander, Tony Lopez and others
What makes this work so captivating is Rodefer’s ability to orchestrate the most eclectic range of tones and discourses: he balances a Poundian inclusiveness with an unerring musical discipline. Thus he achieves harmony of form without sacrificing the “huge looseness” (in Henry James’s phrase) that makes his writing so distinctly American. This intellectual voracity, combined with a democratic enthusiasm for the common tongue, gives his poetry its depth and breadth and brilliance. A major poet.
Of all the most intensely American of poets, Stephen Rodefer is the most European. The scenes and images and vocabularies of homecoming that dominated his work are all translated from foreign tongues, making his poetry the most complete form of cultural longing, a wandering further and further off, finding new phrases to move straight out of, nostalgic for a syntax of belonging whose rules have never been known.
Very SOLID, GREAT and useful satiric ploy with bedrock concerns. Grab Four Lectures, it’s possibly the last real sense you’ll be offered.
Stephen Rodefer | Call It Thought: Selected Poems | Carcanet | 2008
This is a generous selection from Rodefer’s work, introduced by Rod Mengham. It’s too short on selections from Four Lectures, but other than that most of what you need is here. Reading the first and presumably earliest poems in the book, which I’d not seen, confirmed my suspicion that Rodefer emerged full-grown from the head of Apollo to set up as the last secretary of modernism. The poet is both hero and anti-hero in that tradition: leave it to Rodefer to remake “lives of the artists” as “lies of the artists.” We already knew that Rodefer is Villon, or might as well be, and some years on he’s translating Baudelaire as Zukofsky. There’s not a better poet alive.
-Keith Tuma, Third Factory, Steve Evans blog
What else is poetry for if it doesn't provide us with new ways of thinking? There is a social issue to Stephen Rodefer's poems, a comedy of manners...The result is a relentless critque of social attitudes and literary determinism. As an example of the speed-up of human life and what effect it might have on its artists, here is a poet who has experienced three (or more) revolutions in poetic consciousness, who conversed as a young man with Robert Frost, studied with Olson and Creeley, and now lives and writes among the very lively poets of the Bay Area.
From horse to teleportation in one lifetime.
-George Butterick, Sulfur, USA
“Youthful what? Where is Rodefer, he’ll know. That damn Lycidas. Whatever else England draws upon, it’s native talent will out. The damn Lycidas! Where did Rodefer go? Youthful what? I’ll bet anybody a lobster!... but don’t travel well yet…being simply just too big: Steve Rodefer’s always been right, I need a private railway car!
I’ve read Villon three times in one day and it is superb!
Jean Calais—a pseudonym for Stephen Rodefer—is Villon’s most interesting “translator”. Running casually between version and imitations, Rodefer makes every tactical misprision it’s possible to make. The result feels faithful in the broadest snese. Where, at the end of Villon’s snowy catalogue-search for belles and heroines long desceased, Rosetti has him asking: “And that good Joan whom Englishmen/ At Rouen doomed and burned her there,/ Mother of God where are they then?”, Rodefer has already shut down the terminal and caught the dying moments of the happy hour.
-Jeremy Harding, London Review of Books
An excellent Villon...and surely the only such book in which the notes are as pointed as the text. Basil Bunting is the only other man to do anything with Villon in English.
Part carnival, part war, the clamor of the world is loud in these works, submitted by a rigorous and passionate intellect to the clarities which only language can yield from details this fast and dense. Philosopher-harlequin, the poet speaks plainly, having just now invented the line. What other writer can give us this much of the real.
Stephen Rodefer and his writing, are, as we say in French, a force of nature.
Stephen Rodefer’s writing is simply one of the eighth wonders of the invisible world.
Stephen Rodefer is in my view, and in that of many others [see the testimonies on the dust jacket of his recent collection Left Under a Cloud, London: Alfred David, 2000], quite simply the most important living American poet.
(Full text of Jarvis commentary, following the above):
In order to understand his importance, it is necessary to go back a little into literary history. When just beginning his poetical career, Rodefer was associated with the great poets of the Black Mountain school, Charles Olson and Robert Creeley. His work carries forward their conviction that emotional power in poetry need not be dependent on intellectual enfeeblement: it is not only a deeply thoughtful but also a learned body of work, learned not in the sense of carrying out an ostentatious display of knowledge, but rather in the sense that it bears an inward and absorbed relation to the main traditions of European and English poetry throughout their histories. As Rod Mengham has remarked, his distinctive Americanness articulates itself through the most intimate relationship to European, and especially French, poetry: there are lines of his writing which seem to resurrect in English, in a way one had thought impossible, the voice of Paul Verlaine.
At a time when much poetry has so superficial a relationship to these traditions [most superficial, indeed, where it most prides itself on its imitation of or affiliation to them] this is a central strength of his writing. At the same time, however, Rodefer's work also draws strength from the other most important tradition of modern American poetry: the New York poets clustered around Frank O'Hara. Indeed he is the only real heir of O'Hara one can see in the current American scene: whilst there are entire marching bands of imitators trying to be O'Hara, Rodefer is the only poet whose writing has O'Hara's unfakable nerve.
Rodefer, then, works out of these two currents, not so as somehow to add them up (that would be a wholly uninteresting procedure) but rather in such a way that something quite distinctive and new emerges: a voice able to encompass both the broadest range of intellectual interests and the most startling directness of expressive statement. Works like Erasers, "Arabesque at Bar", and "Answer to Doctor Agathon" are masterpieces of late twentieth-century American poetry.
Academic literary criticism has a tendency to overvalue its own secondary labours and to undervalue those which alone grant that criticism its place in the world; a book like this will be around and will be of importance for a long, long time.
Here, finally at this stage stage of the diatribe, arises the relation between irony and dialectic. It might procedurally have been a central possibility, as in a specialist and vividly penetrating way it is in Rodefer’s recent work, that the text disposed to comprise a display of options could itself also function, under simultaneous but self-antagonised aspect, as an alerted or even disgusted enquiry into the reserved apparatus of such disposal…the recognition of certain ironic reversals installed within a contaminated language as socially the idiomatic instrument of routine appropriation…such an irony is just what the American Treewriting mostly refuses: not the nervous dissociation of some warden of the Good Life but from inside the cosy comforts of the Penal Settlement itself... I thought Plane Debris was terrific, in the top Heliogabalus class. Sweat ran out of my ears and still does.
-J. H. Prynne
Now, my own opinion of him is that although his walk is limited and he is fairly to be charged with mannerism, for he treats all subjects in a similar tone of dreamy innuendo, yet in this walk he evinces extraordinary genius having no rival in America or elsewhere…(and) that any of Messerli’s zoo (in his massive anthology Fom the Other Side of the Century) has written a work of real wit and intelligence none will gainsay; that each…has written an entire book of wit and intelligence is open to question; that their work, taken as a whole, exceeds Mr. Rodefer’s in either of these two qualities, or any other, only a dunderhead or a person with a grudge, would dare to claim…(Rodefer's) fin de sieconal prescriptions are just what Dr. Williams would have lifted from the mystic writing pad, had he lived like Rodefer beyond the stroke of midnight.
-Benjamin Friedlander in Simulcast: Four Experiments In Criticism, University of Alabama Press, USA, 2004
“Phoneme sex” indeed. What might I say to convince you? I can hear you chiding, “Come on, you can do better than that.” I can’t. Listening to Chris Conner, reading Mon très femme Canard, feeling sorry for myself in Orono with a glass of white Bordeaux, give me a break Rodefer, this book makes me jealous.
I've been reading a lot of 15th/16th century Scots poetry, and the most aureate stuff reminds me of… Stephen Rodefer’s Mon Canard.
If the word ‘Rodefer’ doesn‘t derive from the Low Dutch ‘Classicist in the Rathskeller’, perhaps it oughta.Mon Canard is typically ducky and elaborately free of flotation devices—a split atom of ashberium with fey and heady valences squirreling in jumpy and Catullan arcs. ...Now hear this : « We are the last metaphysical activists in American nihilism ». In prose and Pro-Am, Rodefer is the most various of American poets. Within any line he can clatter from Provencal to bad stand-up and back, humming more tune than we deserve.
We need to survey what, in fact, surrounds us here, in the grim twilight of the century. The « survey » has to be a work of art, and I would like to do a little testifying as to to impact of Stephen Rodefer’s work. I see it as a major successful effort to deal with life after the decline and fall of Detroit, a new symphonic of the word-matter of the late 1980s, an opus forward of The Waste Land but with a similar wonderful sense of « He Do the Police in Different Voices. »
Rodefer’s poetry talks…with even less surety than Ashbery and with a genuine, rather than parodic, sense of high stakes... Passing Duration bears eloquent witness to the difficulty of making a negative poetry work in contemporary Ameican…Rodefer attempts to look « beyond the spoil, beyond the wreck of otherness and difference » ...to dwell in a morass of particular desires…borne back ceaselessly into the past as in Fitzgerald’s great novel, The Great Gatsby, whose tone of extreme ambivalence and ironized aesthetic wonder he seems to be catching here…The perspective of the poem shifts from the individual to the historical/ communal prospect in a narrative analepsis: «It is the city like a little cloud, a ditch of forcemeat by the hill...»
-Andrew Lawson, Fragmente, Oxford, UK
Nothing is more reductive to thought than the thought of sex. Answer to Doctor Agathon’s ideological model of « academic beehive » reflects that of undemocratic societies where officially censored knowledge is circulated through the rumour, and where an investigated response to « the rumour » is vital, though to different purpose, to the oppressor itself.
-Karlien van den Beukel, Angel Exhaust, London, UK