Agent-de-change by Stanley Rowen: In Remembrance of Terri Brint Joseph

I met Terri in Paris in 1987, probably at a book or poetry reading at the Shakespeare & Co. bookstore there. After the reading, most of us, French and Americans, went to a cafe. Terri and I became instant friends, in the easy way of two expatriate Americans in a non-English speaking country. I was the head of the new stock options trading & sales operation at the second largest French broker, directing a team of a dozen French nationals. I think that until then, Terri had been used to a somewhat American milieu, and she gradually became more and more immersed in Parisian life, helped by her French language skills. She spent a fair amount of time with me, and also together with my French girlfriend, with whom I would eventually marry.

Terri was always charming, brilliant, interesting, coherent, and insightful. I remember that we took a day trip together out to Versailles, and we had with us a scholarly write-up on the statuary there, which we read as we examined the statues outdoors. I didn't know much at the time about her published works; she was very modest about her accomplishments. She was very stressed about her divorce proceedings and I tried to reassure her; in turn, she urged me to "think abundance," instead of getting anxious about my job situation. Mostly we both just tried to enjoy Paris despite our problems. We used to meet regularly at my brokerage house to exchange her dollars for my francs, at a rate midway between the interbank bid and offer, doing us both a favor since I needed the dollars for U.S. expenses and she needed the francs for rent and living expenses. She'd joke that I was an "agent of change" since I worked for an "Agent-de-change" (French for stockbroker). Terri had a notion that I would humanize the profession, and that the problems I was having there were a small price to pay to be an agent of change.

I wish I had stayed in touch with her after Paris. It is now too late, as I only looked her up this Summer after discovering two poems that she wrote in Paris that year, wonderful poems, amongst my papers. Her death is most unfortunate, as she was a lovely, unforgettable person.

Stanley Rowen, August 2010


For more of Terri, see my page: Tribute: Terri Brint Joseph