Real Change republished Bob Redmond's poem "Rise" in this week's issue. Find it here.
A loving do-gooder who always lent a helping hand — that’s how Bob Redmond is remembered in light of his recent passing.
Redmond was the first full-time managing editor of the Real Change newspaper in the late 1990s. It was a time when our paper was just starting to spread its wings and went through many changes, both in frequency and format. And Redmond was the “intrepid, often amused but never impatient” leader of it, said Michele Marchand, a member of WHEEL and former Real Change contributor who sat on the editorial committee at the time.
“Through it all, Bob was unflappable. We trusted his judgment, but always felt like he knew more than what he was saying,” Marchard said. “There was genius under the surface of everything he wrote, said or did, but he wanted us to figure things out for ourselves.”
Later in life, Redmond took on the hobby of beekeeping, a transition from editing that didn’t surprise Marchand, who said he possessed and practiced all the skills of a beekeeper in his role as editor. These skills could be seen in action most often at what was then called the Crocodile Cafe, now just the Crocodile, where the editorial committee used to meet weekly to generate story ideas and vote on submissions for the paper.
“My impression of beekeeping is you have to be awfully patient, move pretty slowly and develop a level of trust,” Marchand said. “And Bob did the same with this disparate group of wacky editorial committee members who quite often buzzed around, needed refocusing and sometimes stung with our anger and our arguments — it was a lively group.”
Ultimately, Redmond’s colleagues say he was driven to do good by organizing through writing and the arts.
“He knew that by helping to put out this paper, he was helping a lot of people,” said Anitra Freeman, a WHEEL member and former Real Change board member. “He took it seriously. He was the kind of editor who can pull things out of other people.”
Redmond could easily build trust with people and never pulled rank. According to Marchand, he submitted his poetry for publication like everyone else and abided by the democratic votes of the editorial committee. He would even ask, and on some occasions demand, to know what people thought of his writing.
“One day, he was giving me a ride home, and I said, ‘I loved your poetry’, and he said, ‘What do you love about it? Tell me more, tell me,’” Freeman said. “He helped me realize: You don’t shut down compliments. Take it, and get the most you can. You want the critique.”
Beyond being an editor, Redmond had his roots planted deeply in the Seattle poetry community, which is how Dr. Wes Browning, Real Change’s circulation specialist, first met him.
“I started going to open mics, and Bob was a regular,” Browning said. “I was really impressed by his poetry a lot. I thought it was pretty insightful.”
Browning recalled a movement around 1997 to turn April Poetry Month into a festival in Seattle. Redmond took up the effort to make it a reality.
“He was the chair of a committee to organize events for three months. There were special venues for open mics and a party at the end,” Browning said.
And this passion for poetry is what all of Redmond’s colleagues consider to be his biggest legacy.
“In spite of how important he was in a lot of other respects, I think he really wanted to be remembered as a poet,” Freeman said.
And this is how I, as the current editor of Real Change, would like to honor Redmond. Read his poem “Rise” here, and may Bob Redmond’s legacy live on — here at Real Change and in the Seattle community as a whole.
Read more of the Nov. 1-7, 2023 issue.