“There are only two passions in art; there are love and hate—with endless modifications.”—Theodore Roethke
At his death, Theodore Roethke left behind 277 spiral notebooks full of poetry fragments, aphorisms, jokes, memos, journal entries, random phrases, bits of dialogue, commentary, and fugitive miscellany. Within these notebooks, Roethke allowed his mind to rove freely, moment by moment, moving from the practical to the transcendental, from the halting to the sublime.
Fellow poet and colleague David Wagoner distilled these notebooks—twelve linear feet of bookshelf—into an energetic, wise, and rollicking collection that shows Roethke to be one of the truly phenomenal creative sources in American poetry.
From “A Psychic Janitor”:
I’m sick of fumbling, furtive, disorganized minds like bad lawyers trying to make too many points that this is an age of criticism: and these, mind you, tin-eared punks who couldn’t tell a poem from an old boot if a gun were put to their heads . . .
Cover art by United States Poet Laureate Ted Kooser.