Penn State celebrates this week the one hundredth anniversary of Theodore Roethke's birth. Roethke, who died in 1963, taught at the university from 1936 to 1943, and again in 1947.
The university's Center for American Literary Studies, Institute for the Arts and Humanities, School of Music, and the Penn State Alumni Association have collaborated to present a program, running through this evening, of readings, talks, and musical performances honoring the poet. According to Center for American Literary Studies director Hester Blum, Roethke's work was "a great influence to the university and the town communities" of central Pennsylvania, where Penn State is located.
Poets participating in the celebration include David Wagoner, who studied with Roethke at the university, and current creative writing faculty member Julia Spicher Kasdorf. Faculty from the school of music will present tonight a program of Roethke's poems set to music, and composer Bruce Trinkley will premier his work Open House, a song cycle named after Roethke's first poetry collection, published by Knopf in 1941, and focused on poems written by the poet when he was a professor at Penn State.
This evening's free event, which also features a poetry reading by Robin Becker, begins at 7 PM in Esber Recital Hall, Music Building I. More information about the centenary celebration is available on the Center for American Literary Studies Web site.