Friday, May 20, 2005

Remembering Cliff Becker

From: lornadee...
Subject: Re: Remembering Cliff
Date: May 20, 2005 10:09:26 AM MDT
To: stollsa AT
Cc: lornadeecervantes AT


Thank you so much for this, and for remembering me on this mailing. I am truly saddened and stunned, and grieving. My own father passed about 3 weeks ago. The first, well, second thing I thought of is Sahara. Yes, she was his life. It's one thing to lose a father while facing the other side of adulthood, but to be a child, and one so beloved of such a beloved man. Yes, we loved him. He was a lovely man. Cliff was special. Besides my typical patriotic zeal, I always looked forward to serving on panels under Cliff—anything for Cliff. He was fair, he was funny, he was right, he had integrity, he knew the work. It was always about the work, the quality of the literature. It was always about the artist and the art. He was beyond sensitive to cultural and gender issues, he was learnéd. This is a great personal loss, and a greater loss to the artistic and literary community in the U.S. Who can ever replace him? And so young. He gave his life to the literature he loved.

Not every man takes a woman's words seriously; most patronize, ignore or sexualize. Cliff always met everybody 'mano a 'mano, mano a mano, brother to brother, hand to hand; but was not above judging people based upon the nature of their character, the same standards I believe he held himself to daily. In Spanish, my grandmother would have referred to him as "bien educado" which defies translation as it means educated, well-mannered, astute, and more. Nice. Like saying, "Cliff was a such nice guy!" Because he was. I will miss his glee at my big ole Chicana abrazos when greeting him—or leaving. I will miss the latest Sahara pictures and sayings. I will miss our stimulating conversations, on and off work. Our after-panel discussions on outreach, etc., before the senators and public were always some of my most intellectually stimulating experiences, thanks to Cliff. He took me seriously. He took us seriously.

I will miss him. Many tears.


Lorna Dee

P.S. I will post this to my blog and will write and send something later, a poem for Sahara remembering her father.

Lorna Dee Cervantes
Associate Professor of English
UCB 226
University of Colorado
Boulder, Co 80309-0226
(303) 492-4620
(on leave 2005)

LornaDeeCervantes AT

(Please note address, phone & email change)

-----Original Message-----
From: Amy Stolls
Sent: Thu, 19 May 2005 19:09:37 -0400
Subject: Remembering Cliff

To all of Cliff Becker's loving friends in the field of literature --
Thank you so very much for your support during this difficult
time of his passing. Such warmth from so many of you ... James
and I are touched, and in many ways relieved that we need not
explain the depths of such a loss, the depths of Cliff's sweetness
and wisdom and good humor. You know. My Lord, all of you know
.. what better testament to Cliff's character and influence.

We have just begun to think of ways to honor our dear friend
and will keep you posted concerning memorial services and
readings, but we wanted to share two thoughts for now.

* Cliff's family is accepting donations for the education of his
eight-year-old daughter, Sahara. As many of you know, she
was his world. Contributions can be sent to:

St. Andrews Episcopal Church
4512 College Avenue
College Park, MD 20740

Please designate your contribution the Sahara Becker College Fund.

* We would like to do something else for Sahara, as well, and
for her mom, Leila (Cliff's wife). We'd like to put together a
collection of writings about her dad from those who knew him,
worked with him, laughed with him, loved him. Something she
can return to into adulthood when she needs to, to know how much
her dad meant to so many of us. To that end, should you feel so
inclined ... we welcome any stories, anecdotes, thoughts, feelings
you would like to share. They can be in any form, of course ... letters
to Sahara, random musings, poems, prose, drawings--and since these
are about Cliff, one need not shy away from irreverence, humour, and
splashes of naughtiness. Please send them to

It is likely that we mistakenly left someone off this email list, so
if you'd be so kind ... please forward this on to friends and colleagues
who might want to be in the loop. Many thanks.


Amy Stolls and James McNeel,1,5294964.story?ctrack=2&cset=true

Amy Stolls
Literature Specialist
National Endowment for the Arts
(202) 682-5771


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