Steve Orlen

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Steve Orlen 1/13/1942 - 11/16/2010 beloved friend of many, long time professor of poetry at the University of Arizona and the Warren Wilson College low-residency program, left us after a brief struggle with cancer. He will be remembered most of all for his generosity of spirit and big heart, for which he was nicknamed Dr. Softy. He loved his vocation, and on any morning of any week could be reached at his Tucson office, reading and writing with a tireless belief in imaginative discovery and the music of the sentence. Author of six individual collections and a selected poems, his work, like himself, is accessible, sprawling, and inclusive of many worlds. Also an ardent student of Jewish history and genealogy, if you gave him long enough, he would hypothesize the likelihood that you were genetically related. In his early work, the speakers of Steve's poems often declare their need to find out how real people live. In fact, it was Steve himself who tutored many, young and old, in the arts of civility and friendship. Modest about his own accomplishments, the least jealous of artists, he was universally kind. In his last days, his friends and former students came and Steve's face was radiant with pleasure; it felt like a last gift for those who were there and those who were there is spirit. Steve is survived by his wife, the painter, Gail Marcus-Orlen; his son, Cozi (Sara); his brother, Jerry (Iris); niece, Lauren; nephews, Josh (Chantelle) and Jonathon and mother-in-law, Marion Marcus, as well as hundreds of friends and thousands of former students. Donations may be made to the UofA Poetry Center. Arrangements by BRING'S MEMORIAL CHAPEL.

Published in the Arizona Daily Star on Nov. 19, 2010
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