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This report is taken from PN Review 170, Volume 32 Number 6, July - August 2006.

World Wide Words: Poetry's Big Hitters and a Little Roethke Devotion Mark Thwaite

The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Theodore Roethke (1908 - 63), whose work is characterised by strong rhythm and natural imagery, was an important formative influence on many writers including Robert Bly, James Dickey, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton and James Wright. The recent Selected Poems, part of the American Poets Project series from the Library of America, is cer tainly to be recommended. Additionally, there is a good collection of essays on Roethke at the essential Modern American Poetry website ( MAPS/) for those seeking more background information, but it is the very few pages of the perfectly formed Unofficial Site of Theodore Roethke ( roethke/) that, I think, encapsulate just what the web can do so well and that I have to thank for introducing me to this wonderful writer.

Simply designed, the homepage of this site has a graphic of a pair of spectacles, a short quotation ( 'When I go mad,/I call my friends by phone:/ I am afraid they might think/ they're alone.'), and four navigational links: 'selections', 'books', 'about', and 'links'. The rest of the homepage is left blank. Clicking the links, 'selections'brings me to a list of ten titles, when the title is clicked the poem appears next to it on the page; 'books'lists Roethke's bibliography and the important critical works; 'about'is a useful, short biography; and 'links'lists a few more destinations on the web that Roethke fans might appreciate. And that is it. No fuss, no flashy graphics, no audio-visual ...

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