A Remembrance of Steve Sanfield by Angela
Looking for one among many
I choose a fountain pen
Unlike Steve’s pens tucked in his white linen jacket
Its beak on the paper is dry
This, after reading Steve Sanfield’s “Drought”.
“Steve-eh-leh”, as I called him, was a friend
of mine. What follows is a personal remembrance written with
a fountain pen in peacock blue ink.
Since the 1990’s I have not left home to travel without
a copy of Steve Sanfield’s collection of poetry, “American
Zen by a guy who tried it”.
Once seated on an airplane, bags checked and the dash in the
terminal complete, I have taken out his collection and read
the poems as a way to transition from the stress of “leaving
home” to “being on the way”.
As I read and turned the pages, the stress and mishigas flowed
out of my body, while images of daily life and humor for our
humanity rose with his words - settled into the open space
of the pages and deepened each calming breath.
Steve Sanfield’s voice has been a long time companion,
and not simply on the printed page. It is the resonance, the
pacing of his live sound that remains present. This is the
gift of having been, over time at the Sierra Storytelling
Festival, of hearing his voice on the phone when I called
to talk about daily life or to ask his counsel, or / sometimes
he called to ask if I would consider coming to the Sierra
festival to tell, or emcee or be a surprise guest on Saturday
I first travelled to the Festival in 1988. I made my way
there - as I suspect many others did, along with several friends
in a car.
Kathleen Zundell, may her memory be a blessing, Penny Post,
Audrey Kopp and Diane McGinnis were often in the car for the
pilgrimage. We drove from Los Angeles, on those long summer
days into the heat of the North Columbia Ridge to stop first
at Mother Truckers, and then to take our seats on the benches
of the festival grounds as the sky became indigo blue, the
school bell rang and Steve took the stage in his white linen
first in the pines
then on the skin
the evening breeze.
The Right Place by Steve Sanfield
That year, I was still new to storytelling as an art form,
to the friendly culture of festivals, and the camaraderie
of tellers. I was new to the gracious Mr. Steve Sanfield,
who became one of my venerable teachers. There is much to
Steve introduced me to the practice of saying “may
their memory be a blessing” following speaking the name
of someone who had passed away. Steve Sanfield, may your memory
be a blessing, here is one moment that still touches my heart.
On Sunday Mornings at the festival, one could sign up to
tell a five-minute story inside the schoolhouse with a full
house audience.. Several of our esteemed colleagues: including
Mary Gay Ducey, Milbre Burch, Bob Jenkins, would offer a “formal”
response for the teller and their tale.
As an audience member, I appreciated the candor and exchange
that was offered.
One year I signed up to tell a story on Sunday morning.
On arrival at 8:30am Steve was already in the schoolhouse,
(remember he was our gracious host) and he spoke to the tellers
in private. No one else was in the room. Here is what I recall
and took to heart.
He motioned to the simple wood platform and said, “This
space you step into, is a holy place. We have a responsibility
when we take the stage. Do not step up there lightly, there
is grace here, there is union. “
I recall being physically stopped, moved, surprised and instantly
grounded at the depth of his words. They hit their mark.
I was at once cautioned, invited, encouraged, and set free
in the deepest way to rise for the occasion.
The other day after hearing he had passed away, the only
medicine that would do was to hear his voice. I found and
listened to his cassette, “Live at the Sierra Storytelling
Festival” recorded in 1988, and once again was in the
presence of his vibration. I can hear the holy place in his
exchange with us.
Here is an artist who is speaking into the natural world of
the place he calls home. Surrounded by tall pines, he is standing
on a wooden platform, a stage he helped to design, he is telling
to his community. He is home. He is offering stories that
are as close to him as his own family relations. You can hear
his relationship to the material, his history, his love for
the live energetic event and pure unadulterated delight in
the sharing of his gold, his treasure. In his voice there
is horsepower, meter, pulse, and breath. Holy, holy, Steve-eh-leh.
May your memory be a blessing.
Angela Lloyd 4/3/2015
Giant in Us All
Written by Angela Lloyd, March 2001
is giant in each of us
Living at the top what we
Can grow to be.
I am a bean!
Watch me grow
I’ll be taller than you dreamed
Watch me climb!
Arm over arm,
Leg over leg,
Over all that is difficult.
Means every morning
There is something new growing- a story.
That was not there
The day before!
Listening to the story.
watch me go!
I’ll come back with treasure!
The treasure of the story.
Treasure belonging to our history!
The treasure belonging to us all!
Hear it Ring? Mama! Hear it Ring?
by a storytelling project with Stephanie & Anna’s
W/assistants Trina & Grace alongside the stories Jack
and the Bean Tree/Stalk