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Steve Sanfield

Steve Sanfield

Steve Sanfield was an award-winning author, poet, folklorist, professional storyteller, and even a Freedom Rider, as well as a long time resident of San Juan Ridge in Northern California. Sanfield was the author of more than 30 books, including: The Adventures of High John the Conqueror, Bit by Bit, A Natural Man: The True Story of John Henry, and the recently published The Right Place: 77 At 77. Throughout his life, Steve enjoyed collaborating with other writers, poets and storytellers. He actively encouraged other writers and poets, critiqued their work, and enjoyed working creatively with other artists throughout his distinguished career.


Sanfield’s creative work not only spanned many decades, it also took many forms. He was called “the master of American Haiku” by Michael McClure and “the master of myth, lore, and word-hoard” by Gary Snyder, Leonard Cohen wrote that Sanfield "writes about the small things / which stand for all things.” Sanfield enjoyed collaborating with musicians since his college days when he read in live performances with various jazz groups at George Wein’s Storyville in Boston. He continued his exploration of poetry and jazz working with small jazz ensembles at the original Troubador in Los Angeles. Sanfield collaborated with accomplished musicians and composers as varied as Terry Riley and Jay Seideman. “Five Seasons: A Concerto for Voice and Musical Instruments” was his first collaboration with Paul Humphreys.


Considered one of the founders of the American Storytelling Renaissance, Steve became the first full-time Storyteller-in-Residence in the United States in 1977 under the sponsorship of the California Arts Council. Although he was known as one of the country's foremost Jewish storytellers, his versions of African-American folktales were highly regarded and critically acclaimed. Founder and artistic director of the Sierra Storytelling Festival at the North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center, he had been featured at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee and at numerous venues throughout the United States.

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