by janet i. martineau
A walk in the park, pointers on coping with anxiety, a “notable” Michigan author and a teacher’s memoirs are on the schedule for the 13th annual “In a Poet’s Backyard” summer series sponsored by the Friends of Theodore Roethke.
Roethke was a Pulitzer-winning poet who was born in Saginaw in 1908 and raised at 1805 Gratiot, which is now owned and operated by the Friends as a museum and the site of ongoing programs.
The summer series brings in authors and poets to celebrate Roethke’s heritage as well as presents programs dealing with mental health lectures since he suffered from bipolar disease most of his adult life. Roethke died in 1963 of a heart attack and is buried at Oakwood Cemetery.
Reservations are required for several of the “In a Poet’s Backyard” offerings since they include a catered breakfast, lunch or dinner. Call (989) 928-0430 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to make reservations..
The line-up is as follows:
-- Thursday, June 13, from 7-8:30pm, “In a Dark Time” at Hoyt Library, 505 Janes in Saginaw
Everyone suffers from anxiety at some point during their lives, which interferes with relationships, work and life in general. CMU doctoral candidates in clinical psychology Krista M. Holman, Rochelle L. O’Neil, and Kathryn A. Michael provide education about different anxiety disorders and things people can do to gain some relief. Free but donations welcome.
-- Wednesday, June 19, from 9:30-11am, “Party in the Park” at Roethke Park, 400 Leddy in Thomas Township
This wooded area with a lake and small train was Roethke family property used for hunting, fishing and enjoying nature and is now a county park. Meet there for a nature walk, train ride, Roethke readings, and a breakfast. snack. Reservations required. $10.
-- Thursday, June 20, from 10am to noon, “Getting The Story Out: Research, Writing, Courting the Presses” at 1805 Gratiot, Saginaw.
Gloria Nixon-John is the author of “The Killing Jar,” a novel based on the true story about one of the youngest Americans to have served on death row.
She will read excerpts from the book, discuss her research, and share what she has learned about the social and psychological issues behind crimes committed by teens and young adults.
Nixon-John is a Red Cedar Writing Project Teacher Consultant. She has worked with InsideOut and the Literary Arts Project in Detroit and has conducted many writing workshops at Roethke Home & Museum.
She has also worked as oral historian for the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum at Saginaw Valley State University and has published essays, fiction and poetry in both small and mainstream presses.
Reservations required for lunch from Savoy, $20.
-- Language Arts Review and Ezekiel Project Arts and Culture Collaboration. Meets Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday, July 9-11, 16-18 and 23-25, from 9:30-11:30am at 1805 Gratiot, Saginaw.
Early elementary students in morning and Ezekiel Project elementary and middle school students in afternoon for a summer language arts/reading program meeting national standards for English teachers. Also includes activities and crafts taken from Roethke’s 1920s era. Reservations required, $15, with breakfast snacks. (Ezekiel students, call 989-492-2684 to register.)
-- Tuesday, July 16, from 2-3pm, “Party at the Zoo” at the Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square, 1730 S. Washington in Saginaw.
|Jeff Vande Zande|
Based on a Roethke poem by the same name, the party includes open mic poetry reading for children, games, animal tattoos, and animal crackers with pink lemonade pushups. This Collaboration with the Bay Arenac Reading Council is free with the $5 admission to zoo and takes place in the amphitheater.
-- Wednesday, July 24, from 7-9pm, “Notable Author, Notable Book, Notable Library Program, at 1805 Gratiot, Saginaw.
“American Poet,” written by Delta College creative writing professor Jeff Vande Zande and set in part at the Roethke house, was named a 2013 Michigan Notable Book -- an annual event during which the Library of Michigan selects and promotes 20 books celebrating the state’s ethnic, historical, literary and cultural legacy.
Join Vande Zande and Randy Riley, coordinator of the Michigan Notable Books program, to hear excerpts from the book and learn about how “Notable” books are chosen. Vande Zande, who lives in Midland, also has penned “Emergency Stopping and Other Stories” and “Landscape with Fragmented Figures.”
Reservations required, $10 with wine and cheese served.
-- Tuesday, July 30, from noon – 2:30 pm, The Eye Begins To See: Creating A Roethke Home Poem with Carol Sanford,” at 1805 Gratiot, Saginaw.
In honor of Roethke's close observation of his world, in particular the family greenhouse business, participants will write individual lines for a group poem by using their senses in the house and gardens to imagine what it was like to grow up experiencing what Roethke saw, heard and felt. Participants should bring a notebook and pencil.
Sanford will start the workshop by reading her favorite Roethke poems as well as some of her own. She began publishing creative work in the 1970s and lately publishes online.
Over the years Sanford has hosted a variety of writing workshops in Midland and surrounding areas. She also taught English in public schools and at Northwood University in Midland and Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, where she was a member of the Poetry Quartet.
Reservations required for lunch from dawn of a new day, $20.
-- Thursday, Aug. 1, from 5-6:30pm, “Gallagher’s Poets: Roethke and Carver,” at 1805 Gratiot, Saginaw.
Roethke and poet/short story writer Raymond Carver were born on the same day, May 25 -- in 1908 for Roethke and 1938 for Carver. And they died a day apart -- Roethke on Aug. 1, 1963 and, Carver on Aug. 2, 1988.
Poet Tess Gallagher, a Roethke student and Carver’s wife, commemorated both during a recent festival in Port Angeles, Wa. Kathie Marchlewski, a Roethke board member and instructor at Delta College, attended the festival and joins River Junction Poet Maxine Harris to celebrate the two men with pairings of poems that were created by Gallagher.
Reservations required for a dinner from Sullivan’s, $20.
Following is a 7pm visit to Rotheke’s grave at Oakwood, Gratiot at Midland, with poetry readings there.
-- Tuesday, Aug. 13, from noon – 2:30, “One Person’s Path to Becoming an Author,” at 1805 Gratiot, Saginaw.
Michele Hile, the author of the self-published book “My Journey of 55 Septembers - A Teacher’s Story,” summarizes her career path by outlining the seven things she has done for which she has been paid. Hile’s memoir is filled with teaching ideas and inspiration and is written from both the student and teacher perspective.
Reservations required for lunch from Crumbs, $20.
-- Tuesday, Aug. 20, from 7-9pm, “Crossing Lines and Doing Time.” at 1805 Gratiot, Saginaw.
Saginaw native Rosalie Riegle returns home to read from her two recently released books about war resisters -- “Doing Time for Peace: Resistance, Family, and Community” and “Crossing the Line: Nonviolent Resisters Speak Out for Peace.” Featured in them are interviews with Saginawian Joni McCoy as well as three resisters well known to Saginaw audience, Sisters Ardeth Platte, Carol Gilbert and the late Jackie Hudson.
Now living in Chicago, Riegle was an award-winning English and women’s studies professor at Saginaw Valley State University, co-founded two Catholic Worker communities in Saginaw, founded the Saginaw Valley Peace Watch, continues to participate in nonviolent actions against war, and published two earlier books about the Catholic Worker movement.
Reservations required for wine and cheese, $10.
Support for the Roethke summer programs is provided by Citizens Bank Wealth Management, the Michigan Humanities Council, Saginaw Arts & Enrichment Commission and HSC’s Saginaw Celebrates Summer.