Michael Rothenberg is an American poet, songwriter, editor, and active environmentalist. Born in Miami Beach, Florida, Rothenberg received his Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Afterward, he moved to California in 1976, where he began "Shelldance Orchid Gardens", an orchid and bromeliad nursery. In 2016, Rothenberg moved to Tallahassee, Florida where he is Florida State University Libraries Poet in Residence.
In 1993 he received his MA in Poetics at New College of California. In 1989, Rothenberg and artist Nancy Davis began Big Bridge Press, a fine print literary press, publishing works by Jim Harrison, Joanne Kyger, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Whalen and others. Rothenberg is editor of Big Bridge, a webzine of poetry. Rothenberg is also co-editor and co-founder of Jack Magazine, He is the editor of:
- Overtime, Selected Poems by Philip Whalen
- As Ever, Selected Poems by Joanne Kyger
- David’s Copy, Selected Poems by David Meltzer
- Way More West, Selected Poems by Ed Dorn (Penguin, 2007)
- Collected Poems of Philip Whalen (Wesleyan University Press, 2007).
Rothenberg's poems have appeared in 88: A Journal of Contemporary American Poetry, First Intensity, Cortland Review, Golden Handcuffs Review, Exquisite Corpse, Zyzzyva, Mudlark, Jacket, Rolling Stock, Sycamore Review, and other publications.
His books include Wake Up and Dream (MadHat Press), Drawing The Shade (Dos Madres Press), Indefinite Detention: A Dog Story (Shabda Press, USA), Indefinite Detention: A Dog Story (Ekstasis Press, Canada), Choose, My Youth As A Train, Unhurried Vision, Paris Journals, What The Fish Saw, Nightmare Of The Violins, Man/Woman w/Joanne Kyger, and Favorite Songs. In 1990 Rothenberg began writing songs. His songs have appeared in films by Hollywood Pictures, Shadowhunter and Black Day, Blue Night.
100 Thousand Poets for Change
In 2011, Rothenberg and his partner Terri Carrion co-founded 100 Thousand Poets for Change. 100 Thousand Poets for Change is a global poetry and arts movement with an emphasis on peace, justice, sustainability and education. 100 Thousand Poets for change assists poets and artists around the world in organizing and planning events in their local communities, which promote social, environmental, and political change. Over 500 events take place in 100 countries each year. Events include poetry readings, music and dance concerts, art exhibits, art and activism workshops and street demonstrations. 100 Thousand Poets for Change is an annual event but 100 Thousand Poets for Change activities take place year round. 2015 marked its 5th year.
Rothenberg has also dedicated his life as a poet to political, environmental and social activism. He has been active in the environmental movement for over 40 years.
- He was co-founder and president of Pacificans for Mori Point, a group that led to the protection of several endangered species, the Red-Legged Frog and the San Francisco Garter Snake, and to the inclusion of this important coastal habitat into the Golden Gate National Area.
- His environmental work in Pacifica, California also led to the expansion of the Golden Gate Recreation Area into San Mateo County through the addition of the Sweeney Ridge National Recreation Area.
- Rothenberg is included in the oral history of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area because of his many years as central proponent of the park and prominent figure in the movement to expand the GGNRA in San Mateo County.
- He was on the steering committee for People For A Golden Gate Recreation Area and one of the Board of Directors of Pacifica Land Trust.
- He was also co-founder and President of the International Consortium for Plant Conservation and founder and former director of the Conservation Committee of The Bromeliad Society International, Inc.
- Rothenberg is co-founder and president of Poets In Need, Inc., a non-profit 501c3 organization that grants assistance awards to poets in financial crisis.
- Rothenberg is co-founder of the Andy Lopez Organizing Committee leading the struggle against police brutality after the murder of Andy Lopez in Sonoma County, California.
- He is co-founder of Shelldance Orchid Gardens, which is dedicated to the cultivation of orchids and bromeliads and part of the trailhead facilities of the GGNRA.
- He is co-founder of Poets In Need, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization assisting poets in crisis.