This alley, which runs from NE 45th Street to NE 47th Street between 7th Avenue NE and 8th Avenue NE, adjacent to the Blue Moon Tavern, was named in 1995 for poet Theodore Huebner Roethke (1908–1963). A professor of English at the University of Washington from 1947 to 1963, Roethke won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1954, the National Book Award for Poetry in 1959 and (posthumously) 1965, and the Bollingen Prize for Poetry in 1959. His best-known poem may be “The Waking,” which begins:
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.
The Seattle Times says the resolution naming the alley “notes [Roethke] conducted numerous ‘symposia formal and informal in the Blue Moon Tavern and celebrated his receipt of both the Pulitzer and Bollingen prizes at the Blue Moon.’” The full text of the resolution is not available online, but I wonder if it specifically calls out the reason for Roethke Mews as opposed to Roethke Alley; as Knute Berger notes for Crosscut, it’s “a great pun on ‘muse’ if nothing else.”
Born and raised in Seattle, Benjamin Donguk Lukoff had his interest in local history kindled at the age of six, when his father bought him settler granddaughter Sophie Frye Bass’s Pig-Tail Days in Old Seattle at the gift shop of the Museum of History and Industry. He studied English, Russian, and linguistics at the University of Washington, and went on to earn his master’s in English linguistics from University College London. His book of rephotography, Seattle Then and Now, was published in 2010. An updated version came out in 2015.