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September 3, 2020

SVSU, STARS collaboration inspires bus mural featuring Saginaw poet Theodore Roethke

A mural celebrating Saginaw and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Theodore Roethke will be painted on a local bus, thanks to a partnership with Saginaw Valley State University’s Community Writing Center and the Saginaw Transit Authority Regional Services (STARS). 
Pauly Everett, a professional muralist and Flint native, plans to paint a mural which covers an entire STARS bus on Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 2-3. Everett expects the painting session to extend from about 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. both days in the parking lot of the Saginaw Art Museum, 1126 N. Michigan. There, community members can watch the creation of the mural from start to finish, he said.
This mural – funded by STARS, the Michigan Humanities Council and Eastern Michigan Council of Governments – is part of the Theodore Roethke Poetry and Arts Festival, tentatively scheduled for March 19-22, 2021. 
“STARS Executive Director Glenn Steffens had the idea to bring art to our riders through a bus mural a year or two ago, and we are thrilled to see this project take shape,” said Jamie Forbes, STARS director of external affairs. 
“This week also marks the return of bus routes since closing due to COVID concerns in March, so this is an exciting week for us.” 
The mural will feature a quote from one of Roethke’s poems along with an image of the Saginaw-born poet, who lived from 1908 to 1963. Other images will include wildlife and iconic locations of the city of Saginaw. 
“Theodore Roethke was a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who grew up in Saginaw, right on Gratiot Avenue,” said Helen Raica-Klotz, SVSU Community Writing Center co-director and chair of the Theodore Roethke Poetry and Arts Festival. “Much of his early work centers on this city and his life here.” 
Everett said he was fascinated by the concept of creating a mobile mural. 
“I’m excited to bring the Roethke lines to visual fruition here in the City of Saginaw,” Everett said. “I’m beyond thrilled to bring my talents to create something in memory of the great American poet for the people of Saginaw to experience on a daily basis.” 
When completed, the bus will be put back on its regular route and can be viewed driving throughout the city. 
In addition, the bus will be on display at the “Poetry in the Garden” event taking place Thursday, Sept. 17 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Saginaw Art Museum. 
For more information about this mural project or the Theodore Roethke Poetry and Arts Festival, please contact Helen Raica-Klotz at or (989) 964-6062.