Celebrate+Theodore+Roethke


By Charles Davenport

Be a part of a very special weekend-long celebration of one of America’s most beloved poets and teachers by attending (and participating) in the great events planned for Theodore Roethke’s 103rd Birthday Celebration in Saginaw, Michigan, on the weekend of May 20-22.

We are very fortunate to have Beatrice Roethke, Ted's widow, and poet Tess Gallagher, joining us for this year's celebration. Tess, who lives near Port Angeles, Washington, was a student in Ted's last class at the University of Washington and is the widow of the late Raymond Carver. Her poetry has earned her a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, two National Endowment for the Arts awards, and numerous other prizes and awards, too many to mention here.

Beatrice Roethke Lushington now lives in England with her husband Stephen Lushington, and both will make the trip across the pond for this year’s birthday celebration. Tess and Bea have never met, so it will be especially wonderful to witness their greetings and hear their stories. More than all of that, May 20-22 will be a chance to honor a great literary treasures in his hometown, Saginaw, Michigan. Having earned the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1964, Theodore Roethke is known throughout the world for the body of his work, but throughout his life he remained deeply rooted in his childhood home in Saginaw. You can learn more about Theodore Roethke and the Friends of Theodore Roethke Foundation at: http://www.roethkehouse.org/.

For more information, contact Charles Davenport at 989-891-7355, or charleshdavenport[at]gmail.com. Or you can contact Kathie Marchlewski, 989-280-6765 or kathiemarchlewski[at]delta.edu

Roethke Birthday events tentative weekend schedule:

    Friday, May 20 – Free Events (Donations Welcome) 

  • 1:00 – 4:00 Traveling Rouse for Roethke. All are welcomed to take part in reading the Collected Poems, in the Roethke House backyard at 1805 Gratiot Avenue, Saginaw

  • 4:30 – 5:00 Roethke House tour

  • 5:30 – 6:30 Oakwood Cemetery visit with Tess and Bea at Roethke's grave.

  • 7:00 - ? Everyone is welcome to join in on the poetry readings at Hamilton Street establishments including Jake’s Old City Grill, Red Eye Coffee House, Schuch, and more. (Tote bags filled with Roethke poems to read on the spot in oral tradition. Chalk to write favorite lines on sidewalks).

  • Saturday, May 21

  • 10:00 to noon -- Writing Workshop with Tess Gallagher in Roethke House backyard.

Fundraising Event. Cost $75 per person. (Student/Participant rates available. Please contact info@roethkehouse.org or call 989-280-6499 or 989-928-0430 to make reservations by May 11th.)


  • 1:00-??? An Afternoon of Poetry and Dinner at Montague Inn, with special guests Tess Gallagher and Beatrice Roethke. (Montague Inn @ 1581 South Washington Avenue, Saginaw. Historic Bed and Breakfast Visit www.montagueinn.com or call 989-752-3939 to make overnight reservations. )

  • 1:00 - 3:30 readings by Michigan Poets & Book Fair (Keith Taylor, William Olsen, Arra Lynn Ross, Patricia Clark and Lee Greenwell)

  • 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Cocktail reception

  • 6:00 Dinner (Menu: Chicken Boursin with artichoke hearts and mushrooms, Statler Marinated Salmon with fine herb cream sauce, Caesar salad, Herb roasted redskin potatoes, Zucchini and yellow squash, Chef’s Gourmet Vegetable Blend, Rolls and butter, Birthday Cake. Vegetarian dishes also available upon request.)

  • 7:00 Reading by Tess Gallagher

    Sunday, May 22 Free Events (Donations Welcome) 
  •  1:00 – 3:30 Poetry celebration with readings by local poets (Gina Myers, Judith Kerman, Robert Fanning, JodiAnn Stevenson, Jason Kahler, Jean Anaporte-Eastman, Jeff VandeZande, Qiana Towns)

  • Poets and publishers Book Fair
  • “Dirty Dinky” display of art by Saginaw students
  • Video Room showing Roethke videos
  • Ice cream and cake for $1.03 for Roethke’s 103 years
  • Tote bags filled with Roethke poems to read on the spot in the oral tradition
  • Chalk to write favorite lines on sidewalk

  • 4:00 atop the Court Street Bridge. Open mic for Roethke poem readings.