Society Magazine

Natasha Trethewey is the New Poet Laureate of the United States

Posted on the 07 June 2012 by Btchakir @btchakir

Trethewey, 46, is an English and creative writing professor at Emory University in Atlanta, named the 19th U.S. poet laureate Thursday by the Librarian of Congress.

The Pulitzer Prize winner is the nation’s first poet laureate to hail from the South since the initial one – Robert Penn Warren – in 1986. She is also Mississippi’s top poet and will be the first person to serve simultaneously as a state and U.S. laureate.

Winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for her book of poems, “Native Guard,”  Trethewey focused partly on history that was erased because it was never recorded. She wrote of the Louisiana Native Guard, a black Civil War regiment assigned to guard white Confederate soldiers held on Ship Island off Mississippi’s Gulf Coast.

The Confederate prisoners were later memorialized on the island, but not the black Union soldiers.

Natasha Trethewey is the new Poet Laureate of the United States

 

Here’s one of her poems: Providence.

 

Providence

by Natasha Trethewey

What's left is footage: the hours before
       Camille, 1969—hurricane
              parties, palm trees leaning
in the wind,
       fronds blown back,

a woman's hair. Then after:
       the vacant lots,
       boats washed ashore, a swamp

where graves had been. I recall

how we huddled all night in our small house,
       moving between rooms,
              emptying pots filled with rain.

The next day, our house—
       on its cinderblocks—seemed to float

       in the flooded yard: no foundation

beneath us, nothing I could see
       tying us 	to the land.
       In the water, our reflection
                                trembled,
disappeared
when I bent to touch it.

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