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Guide to the Stephen Rodefer Papers, 1955-1994
Special Collections M693  
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Stephen Rodefer Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1955-1994
    Collection number: Special Collections M693
    Creator: Rodefer, Stephen
    Extent: 18.5 linear ft.
    Repository: Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Access Restrictions:


    Publication Rights:

    Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections.


    Purchased, 1994.

    Preferred Citation:

    [Identification of item] Stephen Rodefer Papers, M693, Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.


    Stephen Rodefer's professional life has proven as eclectic and wide-ranging as the poetic voice emerging from his numerous books. As educator, he has taught undergraduate seminars at San Francisco State University, the University of California at San Diego, Jesus College at Cambridge University--and creative arts classes to fourth graders at the Malcolm X School; as prose writer, his work has been reprinted in publications as diverse as Wet, Downbeat, and Contrast II; and as poet, his narrative voice ranges from interpretive "translations" of the ancient Greek anthology, Lucretius, and Villon, to the consciously modern (if not post-modern) voice of Four Lectures or Passing Duration.
    Born in 1940 in Bellaire, Ohio, Rodefer studied art history at Amherst College in Massachusetts. He received a master's degree in Language and Literature from the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he studied with Charles Olson and began a dissertation on the life and work of Robert Creeley, the notes for which are part of this collection. Also during this period, he attended the 1965 Berkeley Poetry Conference, which he describes as a sort of induction into the world of the New American Poetry represented by attendees like Gary Snyder, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Creeley, LeRoi Jones (later Amiri Baraka). He received an M.F.A. degree from San Francisco State University in 1981.
    He has served as assistant professor of English and co-director of the creative writing program at the University of New Mexico, lecturer in English at San Francisco State University, curator of the Archive for New Poetry and visiting lecturer at the University of California at San Diego, and held a number of visiting lectureships at other schools and universities. As well as writing for magazines in both poetry and journalistic prose, Rodefer has been associated with their production: he edited Fervent Valley: A Magazine for the Arts (1972-1975); was contributing editor for Zyzzyva, and became involved with L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E magazine, an important journal of so-called language poetry. Since 1972, he has been active in the Bay Area's Poets Theater as both performer and writer/producer; his plays "A & C: an Idyl in One Act" and "Tennyson" were staged in 1983.
    Rodefer's translations include After Lucretius, Villon, Orpheus (from Rilke's work) and Safety, a selection from Sappho and the Greek anthology. He is the author of The Knife, One Or Two Love Poems from the White World, The Bell Clerk's Tears Keep Flowing, Plane Debris, Oriflamme Day, Emergency Measures, and Four Lectures, which in 1983 was awarded the Annual Book Award by the American Poetry Center in San Francisco.


    Although the bulk of this collection is divided between Stephen Rodefer's manuscripts and correspondence, there are also several other series of note within the collection. The "Personal Business" series includes documents pertaining to Rodefer and his family, while "Printed Matter" contains programs, announcements of readings, and non-manuscript matter. "Manuscripts by Others" contains drafts of works by others ranging in date from the late 1950s to early 1990s, while the date range of "Fervent Valley Manuscripts" and Poets Theater Manuscripts" is understandably narrower. The photo collection contains mostly photos of Rodefer and his family, identified and dated when possible. The audio-visual collection ranges from early home movies shot by Howard Rodefer, to recent videotapes of readings and performances, to audiotapes of favorite music and readings by Robert Creeley, Basil Bunting, and Stephen Rodefer himself.
    The correspondence series is organized by origin; personal correspondence, whether incoming or outgoing, is alphabetical, when the full name is known. Unknown authors, or recipients addressed only by their first names, are in folders arranged alphabetically under "unidentified mixed", while limited correspondence--single letters to or by an individual--are located in "mixed correspondence" within the series, arranged alphabetically as well. Rodefer's "Teaching and University Materials" are organized chronologically, with his "Archives for New Poetry Materials" from his stint at UC San Diego set off at the beginning of the series, and various coursepacks from his teaching career at the end. Rodefer's own manuscripts have been subdivided: the series begins with papers from his college career and early graduate school career, moves on to materials pertaining to his unfinished PhD. thesis on Robert Creeley, and finishes with Rodefer's "mature work," which is arranged alphabetically. Some of Rodefer's journalism is interleaved among the poetry; it is reproduced in the "journalism and reviews" section, along with the major reviews of Rodefer's writing. Mixed folders, which contain manuscripts compiled without specific title but as gift, submission, or commemoration of an occasion, are arranged chronologically at the end of the manuscript series.