I am saddened to report here that Bernard Schober, aka The Klute, a god among slam poets and an ocean activist and diver, died on July 18. He was 49.
Schober, who routinely covered Shark Week shenanigans for Nerdvana, leaves behind a megalodon-sized legacy of love, laughter and respect for the natural world that few could hope to match.
Born elsewhere, he called Phoenix home for many years but never let the desert keep him from becoming a divemaster and marine life and ocean conservation evangelist.
I last spoke with Nerdvana’s senior oceanographic correspondent via DM on July 3 to ask if he was going to sink his teeth into “Shark Week” coverage again for Nerdvana as he had for the past six (!) years. I was met with an enthusiastic “Yessir.” I wish we’d talked more, about a lot more. A whole lot more.
The Klute was a nerd-king who loved quoting The Simpsons and Hanna-Barbera cartoon classics like Sealab 2021, but he also loved bringing the wonders and perils of the briny deep to you any way he could. His loss will be felt deeply by any who ever knew him, even a little.
“The ‘Klute’ of today was a culmination of countless personal events and influences and a multitude of experiences, all glued together by his determination to be better in all things,” wrote his friend and publisher at Brick Cave Media, Bob Nelson. “He loved his circle unconditionally, and if you were a part of it, you knew, because he never said no when you asked him for something.”
Indie comic book artist Russ Kazmierczak, who illustrated the cover for a collection of The Klute’s poetry, took to social media to remember his commitment to community: “Galleries felt like arenas when he took the stage, with his name alone, well-earned, on the marquee,” he said. “Yet, he INSISTED on community. Coffees. Slam teams. Collaborations with artists for book covers and merch. I don’t think he needed anyone else to make the impact that he did, but his actions spoke otherwise.
“He made it clear, for all his talent, he didn’t WANT to do it alone. He loved his friends, and he so graciously shared his spotlight, which is, itself, an art.”
Here are some of the charities The Klute supported, which you can help in his memory:
So long, Klute — and thanks for all the sharks.
Evermore Nevermore’s Bob Leeper remembers The Klute:
Klute has been a friend for the past 13 years and I knew him to be fearless, funny and unforgettable. He was featured together with his pal, Lauren Perry, at one of the first events we ever held at the old Evermore Nevermore shop, where he presented his brand of badass poetry to a bunch of hardened bikers who thought they were too cool to listen. Klute was way cooler than all of them. He became a regular fixture in our shop and a part of our family that has carried on for years since we closed.
In 2016, I wrote a letter to the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture nominating Klute to be the “Phoenix Poet Laureate” (I actually still have it here on my desktop) and no one was more deserving. He didn’t get selected, but around here we still referred to him as the nation’s “Nerd Poet Laureate!” A title bestowed on him for his many passionate and enlightening poems of nerdy nature and for his steadfast efforts in coordinating the annual Nerd Poetry Slam at Phoenix Comicon.
We had a love for the film Jaws in common, but Klute took that love to the next degree and became a full-on advocate for sharks and other ocean causes – a real-life Aquaman. Along the way he became Nerdvana’a official “Ocean Correspondent” and he took that role seriously and professionally. The Klute was one of the smartest, coolest, kindest and most talented souls I’ve known. The Arizona Nerd Community has lost a favorite son and he will be terribly missed. I’m certain he’s looking down on us and singing, “Farewell and Adieu Fair Spanish Ladies.”
— Bob Leeper
Remembering Bernard Schober, aka The Klute, in photos:
Most photos by Bob Leeper for Nerdvana