18 Facts About Theodore Roethke


Theodore Roethke is regarded as one of the most accomplished and influential poets of his generation, having won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1954 for his book The Waking, and the annual National Book Award for Poetry on two occasions: in 1959 for Words for the Wind, and posthumously in 1965 for The Far Field.


Theodore Roethke's work was characterized by its introspection, rhythm and natural imagery.


Theodore Roethke was born in Saginaw, Michigan, and grew up on the west side of the Saginaw River.


Theodore Roethke's father, Otto, was a German immigrant, a market-gardener who owned a large local 25-acre greenhouse, along with his brother.


Much of Theodore Roethke's childhood was spent in this greenhouse, as reflected by the use of natural images in his poetry.


In early 1923 when Theodore Roethke was 14 years old, his uncle committed suicide and his father died of cancer.


Theodore Roethke noted that these events affected him deeply and influenced his work.


Theodore Roethke briefly attended the University of Michigan School of Law before resuming his graduate studies at Harvard University, where he studied under the poet Robert Hillyer.


Theodore Roethke's last teaching position was at the University of Washington, leading to an association with the poets of the American Northwest.


In 1952, Theodore Roethke received a Ford Foundation grant to "expand on his knowledge of philosophy and theology", and spent most of his time from June 1952 to September 1953 reading primarily existential works.


Theodore Roethke did not initially inform O'Connell of his repeated episodes of mania and depression, yet she remained dedicated to him and his work.


Theodore Roethke ensured the posthumous publication of his final volume of poetry, The Far Field, as well as a book of his collected children's verse, Dirty Dinky and Other Creatures, in 1973.


In 1961, Theodore Roethke was chosen as one of 50 outstanding Americans of meritorious performance in the fields of endeavor, to be honored as a Guest of Honor to the first annual Banquet of the Golden Plate in Monterey, California.


Theodore Roethke suffered a heart attack in his friend S Rasnics' swimming pool in 1963 and died on Bainbridge Island, Washington, aged 55.


Theodore Roethke taught at Michigan State College, and at colleges in Pennsylvania and Vermont, before joining the faculty of the University of Washington at Seattle in 1947.


The Friends of Theodore Roethke Foundation maintains his birthplace at 1805 Gratiot in Saginaw as a museum.


Theodore Roethke is one of our finest poets, a human poet in a world that threatens to turn man into an object.


In 1967 Theodore Roethke's Collected Poems topped the lists of two of the three Pulitzer Prize poetry voters; Phyllis McGinley and Louis Simpson.