Seibles accepts Roethke award

The Theodore Roethke Poetry & Arts Festival paid tribute to the Saginaw native and Pulitzer-winning poet, known for his critically acclaimed and influential verse.

Made possible by a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council and sponsored in part by SVSU, the triennial celebration kicked off Friday, Nov. 7, with a poetry slam for adults and students in the Marshall Fredericks Sculpture Museum.

The following day, Saturday, Nov. 8, the festival took to the historical Roethke home, featuring readings of letters written from and about the homestead. The “Ted (Roethke) Talk and Tasting” took place later that day at Creative 360 in Midland.

On Sunday, Nov. 9, and Monday, Nov. 10, the festival was brought back to SVSU in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall.

Steve Erickson presented former Roethke student David Wagoner’s one-man show on Roethke’s life.

Tim Seibles, a 2012 National Book Award Finalist for “Fast Animal,” accepted the 2014 Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Award for his work Tuesday, Nov. 11.

Seibles also visited classrooms to share some of his insightful words with students.

“We had the prize poet come into one of my classes and talk to us, which is pretty neat,” Elizabeth Hurd, a senior elementary education major said.

Hurd was able to honor Roethke’s memory by co-authoring the children’s book “The Ghost and the Poem” with Dominique Bigelow. The book is set in the Roethke home, where a young boy meets a ghost that helps him come to love poetry.

The illustrator for the book was Alexandria Farley, the writer of the appendix Bethany Koch and the document designer Brandy Abraham.

“I think Roethke would just love it if we could make poetry accessible to somebody,” Hurd said. “If we could show people, especially kids, how cool it is – that’s what we are trying to do. We were trying to say that poetry is really cool, and it’s not this big, scary, complex thing people think it is.”

Those involved in the book’s creation were invited to Seibles’ acceptance ceremony.

“When he got the prize, he read some of his poems. It was great. It was amazing,” Hurd said.

The festival ended Wednesday, Nov. 12, in the Bay City State Theatre with a performance by the Michigan Jazz Trail Big Band and vocalists Molly McFadden and Ron Trombly. This was yet another way to pay tribute to Roethke, honoring his love of jazz music.

Until Wednesday, Nov. 12, the Roberta Allen Reading Room in the Zahnow Library exhibited a Roethke display.

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