Theodore Roethke

Theodore Roethke was born in Saginaw, Michigan, in 1908. As a child, he spent much time in the greenhouse owned by his father and uncle. His impressions of the natural world contained there would later profoundly influence the subjects and imagery of his verse. Roethke attended the University of Michigan and took a few classes at Harvard, but was unhappy in school. His first book, Open House (1941), took ten years to write and was critically acclaimed upon its publication. He went on to publish sparingly, but his reputation grew with each new collection, including The Waking, which received the Pulitzer Prize in 1954. He taught at various colleges and universities, including Lafayette College, Pennsylvania State University, and Bennington, and worked last at the University of Washington, where he was mentor to a generation of poets that included David Wagoner, Carolyn Kizer, Tess Gallagher, and Richard Hugo. Roethke died in 1963.

Awards and Honors

National Book Award,1965

Shelley Memorial Award, 1962

Bollingen Prize, 1959

National Book Award, 1959

Pulitzer Prize, 1954

Eunice Tietjens Memorial Prize, Poetry, 1951