3 Day Roethke party in Michigan

Tess Gallagher still can’t quite believe she made it into Theodore Roethke’s final class in 1963 at Washington University.
“It was a miracle,” said the internationally known poet, author and playwright, now in her late 60s. “I started college when I was 17 so I was one of the youngest people there. I put in for Theodore Roethke’s class but he would handpick 12 students and I was sure I’d never make it.
“When the list was posted at the school, there was such a big crowd around it, I couldn’t get close. But a friend of mine did, and she called out to me, ‘Tess, you’re in.’
“It was such a joy, and the next moment, there was terror. I was sure some mistake had been made.”
Gallagher, who reigns as poet-in-residence this weekend at the late Roethke’s 103rd birthday celebration in his hometown of Saginaw, even tried to convince the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet that she should come back in a semester or two.
“But I’m glad I didn’t,” she said. “He died that summer and I would have lost my chance forever.”
This weekend, she joins a number of poets from across the state as the Friends of Theodore Roethke remember the poet through public readings, special guests, including his widow, Beatrice Roethke Lushington; a “Dirty Dinky” art contest for young students and a bridge walk that includes music by members of Arthur Hill High School’s band and choir.
The fourth annual Theodore Roethke Birthday Party expands to three days this year, with activities planned throughout the weekend:
Friday, May 20
Traveling Rouse for Roethke, featuring informal Rouses where participants read poet Theodore Roethke’s works
• 1 to 4:30 p.m. at Roethke House, 1805 Gratiot, Saginaw — Rosalie Riegle, Roz Berlin and the River Junction poets host the Rouse
• 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Roethke’s gravesite, Oakwood Cemetery, Midland and Gratiot, Saginaw Township — Saginaw native poets Jean Anaporte-Easton and Rosie King continue the Rouse
• 7 p.m. at Hamilton Street establishments, Old Town Saginaw — Friends of Theodore Roethke board members Kathie Marchlewski and Charles Davenport join King and Robert Fanning in hosting Rouse for Roethke on Hamilton Street, beginning at the Schuch Hotel with “Cremains of the Tenth Circle” and continuing to Jake’s Old City Grill, the Red Eye Coffee House and more. Tote bags filled with Roethke poems will be read on the spot in oral tradition and there’s chalk to write favorite Roethke lines on the sidewalk.
Saturday, May 21
Poets remember Theodore Roethke as the poet’s poet in events hosted by Anita King and Stephanie Glazier from Michigan State University and Patricia Clark from Grand Valley State University and featuring Liz Ruediger as mistress of ceremonies and special guests Beatrice Roethke Lushington and her husband Stephen Lushington.
• 10 a.m. to noon at Roethke House, 1805 Gratiot, Saginaw — Writing workshop with Tess Gallagher. $15. Space limited. Go to the website info@roethkehouse.org or call 989-280-6499 or 989-928-0430 for reserve a spot.
• 1 p.m. to close at Montague Inn, 1581 S. Washington, Saginaw — $75, reservations required. Contact info@roethkehouse.org or call 989-280-6499 or 989-028-0430 as soon as possible.
• 1 to 3:45 p.m. — Michigan poets Patricia Clark from Grand Valley State University, Lia Greenwell from Michigan State University, William Olsen from Western Michigan University, and Matthew Olzmann, Arra Lynn Ross and Keith Taylor from Saginaw Valley State University read their works.
• 4 to 5:30 p.m. — Poets and Publishers Book Fair
• 5 to 8 p.m. — Open bar
• 5:30 p.m. — Buffet dinner, with Chicken Boursin with artichoke hearts and mushrooms, Statler marinated salmon with fine herb cream sauce and assorted side dishes.
• 7 p.m. — Reading by Tess Gallagher, Roethke Birthday Party poet-in-residence
Sunday, May 22
Friends of Theodore Roethke will hold activities in honor of Roethke’s wish to be known by the people in his hometown. Free; donations welcome.
• 1 to 3:30 p.m. — Liz Ruediger, Kathie Marchlewski and Charles Davenport welcome Jason Kahler and Judith Kerman from Saginaw Valley State University; Robert Fanning and Oiana Towns from Central Michigan University and Larry Levy and Jodi Stevenson from Delta College as they read their own works.
• 1 p.m. to close – “Dirty Dinky” illustration exhibit in Rose Garden. Showing of Roethke videos “In a Dark Time,” “Blue Moon Tavern” and “Where Do the Roots Go” in the video room. Ice cream and cake for $1.03, in honor of Roethke’s 103rd birthday. Tote bags filled with Roethke poems will be read on the spot in oral tradition and there’s chalk to write favorite Roethke lines on the sidewalk.
• 1 to 4 p.m. – Poets and Publishers Book Fair.
• 4 p.m. — Court Street Bridge Walk with open microphone for anyone to read their favorite Roethke poem at apex of bridge to Roethke’s Saginaw River and town in the Birthday Party Grand Finale. Musicians and vocalists from Arthur Hill High School will perform on the bridge.
Read the whole article by Sue White here.

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