Posted by: jeannineatkins | June 8, 2012

Natasha Trethewey Named Poet Laureate

I’m happy that Natasha Trethewey was named poet laureate this week, and have heard she may move from Georgia, where she’s been teaching at Emory University, to Washington, D.C., which would make her the first in this position to do so.

I loved her book Native Guard, which won a 2007 Pulitzer Prize in poetry. It links her memories of seeing old Civil War sites, some labeled, some not, with her view of their history. A long section focuses on one of the first black regiments. Her most recent book Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, combines poetry and prose, memory and attention to the present, the story of her brother and a broader political view. Domestic Work includes many poems about growing up in the South, including Hot Combs, Cameo, Family Portrait, Mythmaker, Saturday Matinee, and White Lies.

Here’s a post I wrote after hearing her speak at UMass-Amherst, where she earned an M.F.A. in poetry. You can read more and hear clips of the poet reading at Tara’s blog, A Teaching Life.  And for more Poetry Friday celebrations, I hope you’ll visit Jama’s Alphabet Soup.



  1. Squee! How wonderful that you attended her reading (and how did I miss your other post?). I’ve reserved both Native Guard and Domestic Work from the library and can’t wait to dig in. I enjoy Civil War history and hope she moves to D.C.

    • Yes, it was very special to hear her read. She visited some classes, which must have been amazing for the students. I think you’ll like the poetry, which contains lots of family stories, and she brings a slant I haven’t seen elsewhere to the Civil War. I hope you’ll get a chance to hear her read!

  2. Thanks for this, Jeannine – I will definitely be checking out these books!

    • Thanks for reading, Renee, and I hope you like the poems.

  3. Jeanne, thanks for this post on Trethewey. I am eager to learn about her. I read the poem from your other post and want to read more!

    • Thanks for reading, Joyce. I love the way some of her poems take you back in time.

  4. I’m looking forward to reading much more of Trethewey’s work in this coming year!

    • Yes, I hope her being poet laureate will mean more work for us to read!

  5. Thank you for telling more about her, Jeannine. She is definitely someone to watch for.

  6. Lucky you, to have heard her speak! I reserved a copy of National Guard at my library, based on your recommendations and Jama’s. And…I’m buying a copy of Domestic Work for myself. 🙂

    • Yes, I felt lucky to hear her read, amid a very appreciative audience. I think you’ll like Domestic Work.

  7. She’s new to me! I can’t wait to dig in and get to know her!!

  8. Thanks for reading, Mary Lee! It’s exciting to think of you and many others discovering Natasha Trethewey’s work!

  9. Lovely 2007 Terry Gross interview with her reprised recently on NPR’s Fresh Air.

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