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Theodore Roethke

Born: May 25, 1908
Place: Saginaw, Michigan
Died: August 1, 1963
Place: Bainbridge Island, Washington

Theodore Roethke Theodore Roethke was born in Saginaw, Michigan, on May 25, 1908. His boyhood home was adjacent to a flourishing greenhouse business that was operated by Roethke's father and uncle. Theodore spent many of his youthful days in the greenhouse, playing and working in the colorful world of plants and flowers. Years later he would use images of this natural world and the greenhouse itself in his poetry.

Roethke did well in school, exhibiting a talent for writing, and in 1925 he entered the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He enjoyed his college years, and found that his real talent in the field of writing was poetry. In his senior year he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and he graduated in 1929 to enter Michigan Law School. But somehow the study of law just didn't fit, so he decided to pursue a master's degree in literature at Harvard Graduate School. However, this was during the Depression, and his financial situation forced him out of his life as a full-time student. Roethke searched for a teaching position, and he was successful when he was hired by Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. He always enjoyed the academic lifestyle, and continued as teacher and student at several educational institutions, among them Harvard, Michigan State, Penn State, Bennington College, and Washington State. During these years, he devoted hours and hours to his writing.

In 1941 a large collection of his poetry was published as Open House. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1945, and he published his second book The Lost Son in 1948. He went on to publish a number of other compilations, including The Waking, which gained him a Pulitzer prize, and later works such as Words for the Wind, earning a National Book award. Until he died in 1963, Roethke continued to write and publish his works. He developed a loyal following during his life, and he came to be regarded as one of the better poets of his generation. Many of Roethke's later writings were published posthumously. A very good collection of his poetry The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke is available now through our association with Amazon.com by clicking here.


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