Saturday, October 11, 2008

Raising the roof for Roethke

What do Laura Kasischke, Keith Taylor, Thomas Lynch, and Camille Paglia have in common? Well, on Friday, October 17, they'll all be raising the roof for University of Michigan alumnus and Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Theodore Roethke. Holla!

In the spirit of the campaign season, here's a poem by Roethke from the 1940's in which he describes the bunker Dick Cheney would take refuge in nearly 60 years later.

Root Cellar

Nothing would sleep in that cellar, dank as a ditch,
Bulbs broke out of boxes hunting for chinks in the dark,
Shoots dangled and drooped,
Lolling obscenely from mildewed crates,
Hung down long yellow evil necks, like tropical snakes.
And what a congress of stinks!—
Roots ripe as old bait,
Pulpy stems, rank, silo-rich,
Leaf-mold, manure, lime, piled against slippery planks.
Nothing would give up life:
Even the dirt kept breathing a small breath.

(Theodore Roethke, from Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke, 1961).

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